A children’s gathering held here on Tuesday called for measures to end violation of child rights in schools.
Members of the District Child Assembly, held under the auspices of Khpal Kor Foundation, unanimously passed nine resolutions, highlighting issues of disabled and street children, calling for protection of their rights, end to child labour and ensuring housing system in schools.
Initiated in 2009 and funded by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the assembly constitutes students from different schools of the picturesque district that was hit hard by militancy in recent past to address issues being faced by children in the region.
“The importance of education cannot be denied,” said Ashfaq Ahmed, a student of Khpal Kor Model School, while addressing the assembly. He said that prompt action is needed for the reconstruction of schools which have been destroyed by militants. He said that thousands of schoolchildren are without schools and it is “disappointing” to see that the government is not taking keen interest in this sector. “The children are getting education in tents in this severe cold.
He demanded of the government to begin reconstruction of schools on an emergency basis to save the future of the young generation.
Highlighting violations of child rights in schools across the district, he said that children are being abused and harshly punished in schools, madrassas and motor workshops, which creates psychological and social problems among them and prevent them from continuing education.
Ahmed also said that parent-teachers councils currently operational in schools in the region lack student representation. He said that students should be made part of the councils and be renamed to parent-teachers and students council.
Fatima Aziz of Swat Children Academy said that according to the Children’s Rights Convention, physical and psychological punishment is banned in Pakistan. She demanded provision of a violence-free environment for children in schools as well as community places.
At the end of the session, Rafiullah, while addressing the assembly, proposed formation of a district child rights monitoring committee for implementation of the resolutions.
Formation of the District Child Assembly in Swat is a unique idea in which children will themselves elected their speakers and conduct regular session to address issues of child rights.
“The objective of the assembly is to create awareness among the children regarding their rights and to prepare them for the better future of the country,” said Farman, a member of United Nations Children’s Fund.
District Social Welfare Officer, Hamid Khan, said that the government is giving great importance to the rights of children. The administration has also initiated large-scale activities for the rehabilitation in disabled children, he added. A large number of government officials also attended the assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2010.