‘Moral cleansing’ needed in schools

Health practitioners appalled at physical, mental, sexual violence against children


Our Correspondent July 25, 2021
PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI:

A representative body of medical practitioners on Saturday demanded a stop to physical, mental and sexual violence at schools, which is damaging the future of the society.

There is a need for moral cleansing in primary schools, office bearers of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) said at a press conference held at PMA House in Karachi.

Forty per cent of Pakistan's 220 million people under the age of 15 are not being educated as per the guidelines of the United Nations Charter, said Going to school and getting an education is a fundamental right which is also enshrined in Article 26 of the Fundamental Human Rights laid down by the United Nations.

As per UN, children must have free and compulsory primary education, "but in our country, mental, physical and sexual violence in schools deprive children to get education as per the guidelines of the UN."

These views were expressed by PMA Karachi Secretary General Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro while addressing a press conference at PMA House on Saturday. Dr Ayesha Mehnaz, Naeem Sadiq and Dr Mirza Ali Azhar were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shoro said that the central council of PMA, had demanded in a resolution that measures be taken to prevent sexual, mental and physical violence in schools as such incidents are alarming in educational institutions.

He reminded that the national assembly in its bill had banned physical violence but mental and sexual violence should be made part of the legislation.

Dr Shoro said that one of the major problems of Pakistan is lack of accurate statistics due to which we are unable to plan for the future. If there is no denying the importance of education, then there is a need to pay attention to the causes and factors that hinder literacy, he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Ayesha Mehnaz and Dr Mirza Ali Azhar speaking at the press conference said that in this age of globalization and competition, education should not only be taken as the first priority but at the same time reforms should be made to improve not only the quality of education but also literacy.

The health and education sectors in Pakistan are already facing serious problems. If the students are subjected to mental, physical and sexual violence, then getting education would not be easy. The right to education is enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which calls for free and compulsory primary education.

Similarly, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, calls on countries around the world to make higher education accessible to all. The Charter of Human Rights also states that education is a basic need and a right and if this target is not achieved then the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2030 can never be achieved.

Read more: EU-UNICEF sign Rs3.27b agreement to improve access to education in Balochistan

Naeem Sadiq said that the rights of students and children enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan should be protected. The national assembly has passed a resolution which prohibits corporal punishment in educational institutions. Instead of confusing the Pakistani nation with emotional slogans or highlighting non-issues, the need is to remove obstacles to building a healthy and literate society.

The causes of this whole problem should be diagnosed because without diagnosing the disease, the greatest physician cannot cure it. In the current situation, it is the responsibility of both the government and the society to play their effective role so that the characteristics of a clean society can emerge.

The speakers said that it was not a matter of a few teachers in schools causing violence but of moral cleansing of educational institutions which required a comprehensive plan.

First the analysis and then the prevention strategy should be formulated. Initiatives must be taken to improve the situation because now the society has gone far beyond that. He said that there was a need to take concrete steps to prevent such incidents in the future and also to take basic steps for the promotion of education. According to the 2017 census, the total population of Pakistan is 207.7 million, which has now surpassed 220 million with 106 million males and 101.3 million females. From the total, 40% of the population is under the age of 15. It is necessary to ensure implementation of the resolution passed in the meeting of the PMA's central council wherein it is urged that children be protected against mental, physical and sexual violence in schools.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2021.

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