Youth Truancy Rate in Pakistan Must Change

A shocking 2012 report ranks Pakistani youth with the second highest truancy rate of school children at 19.75 million (out of 179 million total population).

pakistan school children

School not only develops skills and reasoning; it develops moral boundaries and gives social conscience to children.

However, the sorry tale is that children out of school and school dropout rates in Pakistan are increasing at an alarming rate. The disturbing trend of children dropping out of school is the cause for serious concern.

The shocking 2012 report by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child reveals that Pakistan ranks second in the world with the most out of school children, with 19.75 million (out of 179 million total population) absent from school that year. This tragic situation increases each year because poverty is rising. Some parents consider their children as economic assets who need to help provide for the family while others simply cannot afford to send their children to school.

To put things in perspective, it is important to understand that Pakistani society is riddled with crisis

Pakistani society suffers from intolerance, terrorism, ethnic conflict, communal tension, political instability and economic woes. Part of this helps explain why youth become disenchanted with learning institutions. Remember that deviancy is not an act but the reaction to an act, and Pakistan’s social structure is teaching children to be deviants.

It is better to pinpoint that deviants, rebels and criminals are often blamed for the violation of laws. They are imprisoned, deterred and incapacitated. However, the blame lies over the social structure and the institutions which are dysfunctional and compel people to find illegitimate means to fulfill their basic needs. Without formal education, Pakistani children will be denied greater options in life.

Working Pakistani youth is not in and of itself troublesome. The real cause for concern is where they work and what type of job they do. These children earn their daily livings by panhandling, recycling, selling newspapers, mechanical work, working with gangs, petty theft and beggary.

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Many children who work house jobs are harassed, tortured and even killed by their employers. In Pakistan’s Constitution, Article 25A declares that “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.” Yet millions of Pakistani children are out of school. It is not the fault of the children nor their parents but the state which has made them deprived.

The current elected government needs to pay serious attention, and formulate new plans to protect the risky lives of these children. Otherwise they will become a danger to Pakistani society in the near future.

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Makhtoom Ahmed lives in Turbat, Balochistan, Pakistan. He completed a bachelor’s degree from the University of Karachi and is pursuing a Msc in Sociology at Quaid i Azam University in Islamabad.