ISLAMABAD - A study that found that around 3.6 million children under the age of 14 are working, mostly in exploitative and hazardous labour in Pakistan, has suggested incentive-based education for such children.

Dare to Sensitise, Train & Inform-Youth & Adolescents Advocacy Network (DoSTI-YAN), a youth and adolescents advocacy network formed by AGEHI Resource Centre, SACHET Pakistan, organised a public policy dialogue on issues of education and needs of adolescents in Pakistan in October 2013. It was not a standalone activity but part of a continued process of engaging communities and policy makers through the indigenous think tank Alternative Perspectives, since 2007.

Plan Pakistan supported the network in compiling the reflections and recommendations. And the media was briefed on the report published by Society for the Advancement of Community, Health, Education and Training (SACHET) on "Adolescent & Education in Pakistan" based on a policy dialogue Monday.

The report informed that adolescent population aged 10-19 by 2011 is estimated as 39,894,000 which is 23 per cent of total population of Pakistan. Net enrolment of male in primary school participation is 81 per cent where as it is 67 per cent for females. Net attendance of male in primary school is 70 per cent whereas female's attendance in the primary school is 62 per cent.

Similarly net enrolment of male in secondary school participation is 38 per cent whereas it is 29 per cent for females.

"Child marriage by the age of 15 prevails around 7 per cent and by the age of 18 it is 24 per cent. Currently married female adolescents are round 16 per cent. Birth rate by age of 18 is 10 per cent whereas adolescent birth rate is 16 per cent. And there is an estimate that around 3.6 million children under the age of 14 work mostly in exploitative and hazardous labour in Pakistan."

"We are extremely concerned why these shocking facts and figures do not disturb the relevant quarters?" questioned Dr Rakhshinda Perveen, founding executive director of SACHET Pakistan, while sharing the report. "Why these are not considered newsworthy? Why a common citizen could not perceive any action/intervention to address these issues? Why our power elites do not raise their voices to increase the spending on education up to 25 per cent in GDP?"

The study contains 26 recommendations and reflections. Increase in budget and investment in education especially for girls and there should be more schools especially for girls, it says.

"Curriculum must be relevant to market needs. Today adolescents in urban areas have access to social media and TV so they should be taught through making resources available on social media in interesting manners."

It recommends that life skills modules should be added in the syllabus so that children could understand and cope with the physical and emotional changes they would undergo while in transition to adolescence. Teachers should be trained on how to teach the children on reproductive health and on how to guide parents about it.

Women and girls who are expert in their vocational skills should also be given some formal education so that they could highlight their skills and work for increased appreciation and benefits And there should be one non-discriminatory education system for all and most importantly at policy level where if we have an education policy it must be applied to the whole country so we could prevent class divisions.