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Out-of-school children: Pakistan ranks second in the world

Updated Jun 28, 2013 10:08am
In its annual report, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) said about one fourth of the 19.75 million children in Pakistan aged five to nine were out of school — Photo AFP
In its annual report, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) said about one fourth of the 19.75 million children in Pakistan aged five to nine were out of school — Photo AFP

KARACHI, June 27: Pakistan ranks the second with the most out-of-school children in the world with only Nigeria ahead of it, said a child rights body on Thursday.

In its annual report titled ‘The state of Pakistan’s children 2012’, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) said about one fourth of the 19.75 million children in Pakistan aged five to nine were out of school and factoring in adolescents increased the number to 25 million. Of them, seven million children (aged three to five) had yet to receive primary schooling.

“The country reduced its spending on education from 2.6 per cent to 2.3pc of the GNP (gross national product) over the decade and ranks 113th of the 120 countries on the Education Development Index,” said the Sparc report launched in a hotel here on Thursday.

At the provincial level, Punjab has the highest NER (net enrolment rate) for children in primary schools at 61pc followed by Sindh with 53pc, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 51pc and Balochistan with the lowest at 47pc. Pakistan has an NER of 74.lpc for all age groups enrolled either in primary, secondary or higher education.

Pakistan has the lowest youth literacy rate with 70.7pc. Only 61pc of girls are literate as compared to 79pc boys in the age group of 15-24 years.

Progress has been slowest in low-income countries, especially Pakistan, where only 15pc children received pre-primary education in 2010. It quoted a recent report saying 63pc of children aged three to five years were not receiving any education related to early childhood development.

The country ranks 129th among the 135 countries on the Gender Gap Index 2012 according to the Global Gender Gap Report. Data shows that gender parity for primary schools in Azad Kashmir is close to 1 (0.97). The GPI for Punjab stands at 0.98, in Balochistan it is 0.83 and in Sindh 0.81.

The report said 43pc children born in Pakistan were afflicted with stunting. It was estimated that 21.7pc children were severely and 21.3pc were moderately stunted.

It quoted the United Nations Children's Fund as saying that under five years mortality rate had declined from 122 per 1,000 births in 1990 to 72 per 1,000 births in 2011; far from reaching the assigned target of 52 per 1,000 births as per the millennium development goal.

More than 423,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthday, and almost one in five of these deaths are due to pneumonia.

Pakistan accounted for nearly 30pc of all polio cases recorded worldwide. A total of 142 cases were reported in 2010; 198 cases in 2011. In 2012, the official reports show, 58 cases were recorded, excluding cases in the North and South Waziristan agencies.

It is estimated that 2.1 million cases of measles are reported annually in Pakistan and 21,000 of the reported cases die of complications from the disease. Pneumonia and diarrhoea account for 29pc of deaths among children under five worldwide or more than two million a year; with Pakistan ranking fourth among the countries with the highest prevalence of the disease.

A total of 55 of 96,000 infants, children and adolescents had been identified as HIV positive in Pakistan In 2012, around 5,659 cases of violence against children were reported across Pakistan from January to October 2012. These included 943 murders, 1,170 cases of injuries, 302 of sodomy; 204 of child trafficking, 410 of forced marriages and 164 of Karo-kari (honour killing) incidents, and 260 cases of missing children. Other incidents of violence included 407 cases of sexual assault, 547 torture cases, 323 child suicides, 530 kidnappings and 176 Vani cases.A total of 3,861 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in different parts of the country last year. Most of the cases were reported in Punjab (68pc), followed by Sindh (19pc), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (5pc), Balochistan (3pc) and FATA (3pc).

The report said 197 of the 3,581 victims of drone strikes since 2004 were children.

The participants said children in Pakistan had to cope with a lack of educational opportunities, poor health conditions, a near absence of protection for poor and vulnerable children, miserable conditions in juvenile jails and continued employment of children in hazardous occupations.

Violence against children remains culturally entrenched as children in Pakistan have to cope with physical violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, recruitment in armed conflicts and acid attacks. In the absence of a national database on violence against children, the report relied on secondary sources to give the prevalence of various forms of violence against children.