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Education for internally displaced children in Pakistan

By Myrah Qadeer Khan

There are unknown numbers of unregistered IDPs living in Pakistan and most of them are children. The absence of basic services can have a lasting impact on young people’s lives. Using a rights based approach this article provides rationale for incorporating the provisions for relevant age- appropriate schooling into humanitarian efforts based on the concept of non- discrimination, best interests and evolving capacities for children.

The situation of complex emergency in Pakistan needs attention.

Pakistan is a signatory to the convention on the rights of Child and has also committed to the education for All. The addition of Article 25a to the constitution stipulates , ‘the state shall provide free and compulsory education  to the children of the age of five to 16 years in such a manner as may be determined by law.

Convention of rights of children’s  core principles includes regarding non discrimination ; best interest of the child, the right to love, survival and development and respect of the lives of the child. The right to education  is addressed by Article 28 of CRC under which signatory states are mandated to provide compulsory primary education and to ensure opportunities for secondary education later includes access to vocational skills and training. Considering the spirit of CRC the field of ‘ education in emergencies; can be seen providing access to basic right and other rights, in urgency schools can be used to support right to life and  health, imparting information about disaster risk management.

An estimated  5-6 million people from KPK and FATA have been displaced by conflict, violence and abuse. Displacement reached its peak in 2009. Barriers to registrations of IDP’s stringent criteria for categorisation means that there can be no accurate estimate of how many have been forced to flee.

At present the two leading organization for the education cluster are UNICEF and save the children Pakistan working in collaboration with other agencies however  Local implementation  organizations observed first wave of assistance, importance was given to shelter and food  where as education received little or no direct  funding. Camps tents schools, KPK representative government issued notification that IDPs do not face trouble while enrolling in government schools.

Inspite of  all this there is a gap that needs to be bridged. According to the 2013 stats 63 percent of children do not attend schools.

These gaps can be filled, following are the   considerations;

Such as barriers in hot districts such as in district KPK people have no  money for school expenses especially in Peshawar moreover some did not consider it important.

Secondly funding issues, there are still millions of children deprived and in need of assistance, funding only targetted 15%. An education  cluster strategic resolution plan was formulated in April 2014 this was seen a step of improvement as it involved commitment of funds to support schools in camps providing resources and capacity building to teachers.

Macro level vulnerability, the elevation of national response includes the consideration of equation that whether there is  a legal framework that exists upholding IDP rights. This means that the federal government or provincial government like Sindh or Punjab not always  responding for protection and assistance of IDPs.

Below are the identified areas for proposing improvement in education,

Firstly academic priorities,

This follows that a useful education will offer  skills that children can employ and apply to their immediate as well as future lives  moreover supplementary materials should cover core competencies including early learning life skills, health hygiene  moreover there should be a window for incorporating  disaster risk reduction, education regarding psychological  well being in formal n non formal curricula.

Recruitment process for teachers must be well thought and transparent. One challenge is that female teachers are not available and para teachers are employed from neighbor districts. Female teachers are important for girls to be able to attend schools  where cultural barriers are strong. Accelerated learned procedures are  adopted in districts to follow up the progress in learning.

Most importantly, psychological well-being of children needs to be considered. Mostly people face psychological stress from  being prey to violence to loss of a home. Some are subject to abuse.

There is a need to create friendly environment  providing teachers with sensitization to become attachment figures and symbolizes school as a stable n safe space.

The case of a child wellbeing of Afghanistan, due to cultural similarities with Pushtoons  IDPs  in order to monitor and respond to the child’s  protection challenges, Child friendly spaces were to used to concentrate on the   well being of children.

Currently education improvement response does not include skills and capacity, there are barriers such as living in terms of access to education for IDPs children  this  is true for  camp living families. There is a need to ensure the  link between formal and informal program different for girls considering future opportunities that  differ for both.

According to international  humanitarian  law  the education continues in emergency situations as well. Parties  to  internal armed  conflict  are  required  to  ensure  that  children  receive  an  education,  including  religious  and  moral  education.  In  international  armed  conflict,  occupying  powers are  obliged  to  facilitate  the  proper  working  of  educational  institutions  in  occupied  territories  Whenever  an evacuation  occurs,  each  child’s  education,  including  his religious  and  moral  education  as  his  parents  desire,  shall be  provided  while  he  is  away  with  the  greatest  possible continuity.

Children displaced by conflict in Pakistan are exposed to risks of abuse exploitation, lack of legal protection.  Government and Development  communities needs to consider the improvement of education keeping in mind the lost generation.

Education is not simply the  reconstruction of physical spaces of learning, or   what is being taught and how it is being delivered but it also encompasses  how  education relates to the immediate n future  lives of children , all are highly important considerations.

Around the world today,  too many displaced children  grow up deprived of an education and the tremendous long-term  opportunities it affords. Far greater attention, priority and efforts therefore need to be devoted to minimizing the disruption to education invariably resulting from displacement while maximizing the  potential protection and other critical support  that going to school can provide internally displaced children.

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