The DCO’s order that parents must present their children’s vaccination card when seeking to register their birth or get them admitted to school is a violation of the constitutional right to free and compulsory education, according to the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc).
“Already a large number of children of school-going age, between 35% and 40%, remain out of school.
If the vaccination card is made mandatory for school admission, the education sector will collapse completely,” said Sparc regional head Sajjad Cheema on Wednesday.
He said that education was already a costly privilege for many poor families and the vaccination card requirement would be another major hindrance in access to education for poor children.
“The order passed by the Lahore DCO is an absolute contradiction of Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, which gives all children aged five to sixteen the right to education,” he said.
He also questioned the efficacy of the Punjab government’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation, pointing to the ongoing outbreak of measles, which has killed at least two children in Lahore.
There has been increasingly poor vaccination coverage the past few years and preventable diseases are still a major cause of the high infant and child mortality rates in the province, he added.
“The provincial government has an obligation to explain to the people why the immunisation programme has failed to [protect children] from such diseases,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2013.
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