Campaign against child beggary under way, child protection authority tells SHC

February 07, 2023

The Sindh Child Protection Authority has developed coordination with police, district administration and non-government organisations for an anti-beggary campaign with the focus on child...

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The Sindh Child Protection Authority (SCPA) has developed coordination with police, district administration and non-government organisations for an anti-beggary campaign with the focus on child beggary.

This was stated in a report submitted by the SCPA to the Sindh High Court on Monday in connection with petitions that sought implementation of the education, orphanages and child protection laws in the province.

In the report, the SCPA director general (DG) submitted that the anti-child beggary campaign had been intensified with 123 child beggars taken from different areas and streets and brought to shelter homes.

The SCPA submitted that those children were now properly housed in shelter homes and served with meal, clothing and psycho-social support duly provided to them. The high court was informed that education and vocational training facilities were also being arranged for such children whereas different avenues were being explored to initiate joint venture for education and vocational purposes.

Regarding the custody and release of other children, the SCPA submitted that children were handed over to the parents and legal guardians through the relevant court of law having jurisdiction in the matter after fulfilling legal and procedural formalities.

The official submitted that the Sindh Child Helpline (1121) had been established, which was operational and had connectivity across all the 30 districts of the province, providing a quick referral mechanism if any incident of violation of child rights was reported.

He submitted that the authority was being supported by Unicef regarding integration of data on children through development of the Child Protection Management Information System, which would be deployed after the same was fully developed and tested.

The high court directed the information technology secretary as well as a representative of the National Information Technology Board (NITB) to file their respective comprehensive reports setting out the features and functionality of the app under development, as well as the pros and cons of the system proposed by an intervener in the case.

The high court also issued a notice to the country head of Unicef to appoint any responsible functionary of the organisation to attend the court proceedings on the next date in order to assist the court regarding development and deployment of the management information system and related measures.

The education secretary filed a statement submitting that an app for teachers’ attendance had been launched and rolled out in seven districts of Sindh since January 16, 2023.

He submitted that training of master trainers to guide the teachers to use the app had been also conducted. The process of trainings was going on but it had now been disturbed due to the boycott of primary and secondary schoolteachers associations, the SHC was informed.

He submitted that an app to monitor the attendance of students was also under preparation and meetings had been held with the NITB and PITB in this regard.

The secretary said that disciplinary actions had been taken against another 562 absconding schoolteachers, of whom 366 teachers were awarded major penalties and 196 minor penalties, bringing the total to 1,355.

He submitted that 245,227 students had been enrolled in different government schools of the province. A division bench of the SHC comprising Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed directed the authorities concerned to submit a progress report on February 17.

It is pertinent to mention that the high court had earlier directed the chief secretary to submit concrete and definite proposals for ensuring that children of school-going age who were not enrolled or attending schools were brought into the school system and ensure implementation of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act as well as the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act.

Earlier, the education department had informed the high court that presently 4,351,148 students, including 26,94,245 boys and 16,56,903 girls, were enrolled in 40,796 government schools of the province while 3,044,260 children were enrolled in privately-managed schools.

The education department submitted that 44,219 schools had been established in different districts on the basis of requirements or need of specific areas after ensuring proper facilities whereas there were 6,407 shelter-less schools in the province and the department had also notified a policy for such schools.

The education department mentioned that there were 649,044 students were enrolled in madrasas (seminary schools) as per the data received from the home department.

Rights activists and organisations had filed petitions seeking the implementation of the 2013 law that made it incumbent on the government to ensure free and compulsory education of children from six till 16 years.

They also sought implementation of the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act as well as orphanages laws. They submitted that thousands of street children were roaming in the city and several were being used in criminal activities, begging and other anti-social activities.

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