Children fill water in a wooden cart on the eve of International Children's Day in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, on May 31, 2014. The International Children's Day will be observed in the country on Sunday, with non-governmental organizations and schools promoting international fraternity and harmony among children from different backgrounds, as well as equal rights for every child. (Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal)
MULTAN, Pakistan, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Children are always taken as the future of a nation and it is generally advised to provide them the best education, medical and nutrition facilities to groom them as a valuable citizens.
But eight-year-old Pakistani boy Rustam Ali is faraway from these amenities and is spending a worst time of his life.
The innocent Ali never went to school and has been working in a bricks kiln along with his parents for the last two years in 7/WB village near district Vehari in Multan Division of Pakistan's eastern Punjab province.
"We can't afford to send him to school or let him stay at home for nothing, we have six children and all help us both, wife and husband, make mud bricks to earn our livelihood," Hadait Kaar, father of the child, told Xinhua on Friday.
All public schools on Saturday announced 75 days summer vacations, but there is no off day for Ali. Under the scorching heat, he is to carry on his work by putting mud bricks in order after his parents and elder siblings have made them.
The family of eight persons collectively can earn around 400 Pak rupees (4 U.S. dollars) after a hard work from dawn to dusk.
In 2012, Pakistan's education department announced to attain 100 percent enrollment among children of primary school age by the year 2015, but the target looks faraway because there are not enough efforts by the government for the program.
More than 30 percent of Pakistan's total population, about 190 million, has been living under the poverty line and such tense circumstances compel the children of these families to adopt labor for survival.
According to a report released by Pakistan's Federal Bureau of Statistics, at least 3.8 million children under the age group of 5- 14 are involved in economic activities, both in formal and informal sectors in the country.
Under a special program, the government of Punjab province has been providing free study materials and a daily allowance to convince families to send their children to school, but the effort failed to get targeted response.
An educationist, Maryem Javed, told Xinhua that they had been visiting the houses of children for enrollment but their parents made one excuse or the other to avoid schooling.
"Even if we threaten to call police to arrest them, they don't care. Mostly parents don't even think about schooling and want their children to focus on how to earn money for family," said Javed.
Contrary to all claims, Pakistan's federal government on Friday decided to decrease the share of budget allocation on education in the Public Sector Development Program for the next financial year 2014-15.
Governor of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Mehtab Abbasi, on Saturday protested over the size of allocation for the restive tribal region decreasing from 180 million U.S. dollars to 150 million U.S. dollars in the next year.
On the occasion of International Children's Day, the Pakistani government, civil society, educational institutions vowed to do untiring work for the welfare of children, but no big program was announced by any department.
The activists of nongovernmental organizations working for the children rights urged the government to take solid steps for the welfare and bright future of children, especially by banning domestic child labor and allocating big funds for the purpose.
Malnutrition and insufficient health facilities are also among the top problems being faced by Pakistani children for many decades. During the last one year, hundreds of children had expired across Pakistan due to undernourishment and measles.
The British-based organization, Save the Children, reported earlier this year that Pakistan had the highest rate of first day deaths and stillbirths at 40.7 per 1,000 births, followed by Nigeria (32.7), Sierra Leone (30.8) and Somalia (29.7).
Pakistan is third among five countries, including India, Nigeria and Congo, that accounted for almost half of deaths in children under five worldwide.
Pakistan has failed so far to control polio virus among children despite the World Health Organization-led Global Polio Eradication initiative spending millions for vaccination during the last 23 years. It is the only country where polio cases have been steadily increasing since 2008.
According to the National Institute of Health, mostly cases appeared from the areas hit by militancy or far flung areas where vaccination teams could not reach.
In 2012, following 198 cases in one year the WHO warned Pakistan of travel and visa restrictions by a group of countries across the world if it failed to control the virus.
On Saturday, special events were arranged in connection with the day where scholars, anthropologists, teachers and educationists urged the authorities for solid and long lasting policies for children.
The activists and health experts expressed deep concerns over the increasing trend of smoking among children in educational institutions. They asked the government to stop the sale of cigarettes to children by implementing existing laws in letter and spirit.
Government institutions, non-governmental organizations and educational institutions marked the International Children's Day by arranging different programs, events and activities for children besides holding walks to make awareness among the masses about children rights.
Sarwar Bari, a social worker, said millions of children never go to school in the country and finally become an ignorant person who knows nothing about their rights, now society and the government both should work together for the welfare and basic rights of children.