ISLAMABAD: The government has announced forming a committee that will chalk out standards to run orphanages and children homes as per national and international standards.
Special Assistant to the PM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar presided over a meeting on Monday at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat to plan modalities of the committee and chalk out the remit and scope of its work.
She stated that Pakistan is a very philanthropic nation as compared to other countries, and especially when it comes to the support of orphanages and orphans.
Being formed under the ‘Ehsaas Programme’, the committee will be notified later this week, as the government strongly feels that there is a need to draw on the strengths of all stakeholders and begin by setting standards since this aspect has remained neglected in the past from the perspective of public service delivery.
In its preliminary phase of working, the committee is intended to work out basic standards in expanding the overall scale and framework of social protection services to the orphanages and orphans.
According to a report of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), Pakistan is home to 4.2 million orphan children. This staggering figure is the collective responsibility of the public and private sector to support these precious children and give them all the adequate resources, including quality education, health, home, nutrition and other basic facilities, to integrate them in mainstream society.
During the meeting, several presentations were made by heads of philanthropist organisations like Anjuman Faizul Islam, Edhi Foundation, Khubaib Foundation, Kashmir Orphans Relief Trust, SOS Children’s Village Pakistan, Penny Appeal, Al-Khidmat Foundation, KhpalKor (Swat), ZamungKor (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
Participants of the meeting were of the unanimous opinion that two problems need immediate remedies by the government; first, there is a pressing need to devise a comprehensive coordination mechanism centered at the police department to administer the protection of missing and runaway children and reconnect them with their families.
Secondly, an inclusive media engagement policy needs to be in place to facilitate regular airtime for running regular advertisements of missing and runaway children on channels and dailies. In this regard, experiences with the police department and print and electronic media were brought to the table that the orphanages and NGOs working with orphans currently face severe complexities to investigate the whereabouts of missing children and returning them to their homes.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2019