Once again there is good news. Pakistan has improved on the Childhood Index with its score rising to 626 in 2019 from 540 in 2000, says the Global Childhood Report 2019. The report was launched the other day by Save the Children at a ceremony organised by ‘Children’s Action against Oppression and Neglect (CHAON)’ project. According to the report, 280 million children, or one child in eight, are much better off now than at any time in the past two decades. More children are healthy and survive past their fifth birthday. More children have sufficient food to eat. They are longer stunted. More children are in school and learning. All this is a feel-good factor. The project combined child protection systems, accelerated learning and a school health programme in Sindh and Punjab reaching over 600,000 adults and more than 800,000 children. The IKEA Foundation-funded project worked in collaboration with the provincial governments. Speaking at the ceremony, former senator Farhatullah Babar rightly said while there had been global improvement, children had not been on the agenda of governments and political parties in Pakistan.
What governments should be doing NGOs and INGOs are doing. Taken in the context of governmental neglect we should praise NGOs and INGOs and the private sector for doing a commendable job. There is a severe initiative deficit in Pakistan and most Third World countries in the area of child welfare and welfare of other vulnerable segments of society. In the past 70 years, our governments have failed to provide people with even safe drinking water. The private sector has filled this gap to a considerable extent. So is the case with children’s health and education. NGOs and INGOs are filling the gap left by the government. The report says Pakistan has reduced child labour among five to 14-year-olds by 29 per cent in recent years. This has been achieved mainly by focusing on children’s health and education.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2019.