PESHAWAR: The provincial government has planned to set up a school for street children in the city.
During a meeting held at the Assembly Secretariat with private school owners on Saturday, K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said the government has already set aside Rs500 million aside for the school and hostel project.
He said the school will not only provide free education and housing, but also meals and a monthly stipend. “The school will have the capacity to accommodate 1,000 children and would be located in Nassapa Payan area on Charsadda Road.” The speaker maintained the school would be a first-of-its-kind and will serve as an example for other provinces.
Experts hailed the decision but added its implementation will change the game only when statistics on street children are obtained from across K-P.
Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child Programme Manager Khalid Mehmood told The Express Tribune on Sunday that contested figures, collected by various organisations, are available on the number of out-of-school children across the province. “The government never bothered to collect the data,” he added.
Mehmood said non-profit organisations do not have enough resources to collect these figures hence they have time and again pressed the government to conduct a survey.
“The government has enough human resources in the education department with the help of which a survey can easily be carried out.” He added when the actual figures will come to the fore, it will be easy to make policies and devise strategies for street children.
Nevertheless, he lauded the initiative and said it is high time street children are brought back into the mainstream and given opportunities to start afresh. He said the plan will be fruitful only if implemented properly. He said numerous initiatives were chalked out in the past but little action has taken place on ground.
Mehmood added K-P Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010 was passed but has not yet been properly implemented in letter and spirit. A child protection department was also established with help from Unicef but department officials were never paid and the offices have remained closed for months.
Mehmood also spoke about a centre that SPARC is running for street children, saying they register 18 to 20 children daily to provide them with food, education and technical training.
“If the government gives the school project its due importance, they will refer the children who come to them to that facility,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2015.