KARACHI: As all educational institutions were closed this week due to spread of the Delta variant, Syeda Anfas Ali Shah Zaidi of Ocean Welfare Trust, which runs the free-of-cost Footpath School in Clifton and Defence Housing Authority, is asking what to do about schools like theirs which keep street children off the roads.

“Quite frankly, the closure of the Footpath School is not keeping its pupils safe and out of harm’s way because they are roaming the streets and not safely sitting at home. The school itself was a safe haven for these children,” she pointed out to Dawn.

“The children who attended the Footpath School are street children. They don’t even have a proper roof over their heads. They don’t have access to computers or mobile phones. Their education has been stopped abruptly,” she added.

“When in the Footpath School, these children were safe under our watchful eye but as soon as they leave they were back on the streets begging for alms, and getting into all kinds of mess.

“I work very hard at convincing the parents or guardians of each and every pupil of the Footpath School. Sometimes it took me even six to eight months before they allowed their child to study with us. We taught them how to read and write from scratch and then when they came on the right track, we have these school closures due to Covid-19,” said Ms Zaidi.

“Please understand; these children are not like other children who can continue their education from the luxury of their homes. I appeal to the chief minister of Sindh and the education minister of Sindh to please think about the welfare and well-being of street children too. Please come up with a policy for these children too because we are keeping them off the streets, and out of trouble, by keeping them in school,” she concluded.

Published in Dawn, July 28th , 2021

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