islamabad - Article 25A of the constitution of Pakistan gives every child of the country a right to gain education. Under the article, the state is responsible for providing free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and sixteen as determined by law.

However, according to the latest figures of National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) under Federal Ministry for Education, nearly 22.6million children are out of school and 44 percent are from the age group of five to 16.  According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) only 30percent of the children enrolled in class 1 stay till class 10.  The Nation interviewed 14 year old Ali Raza who had to drop out of school due to financial constraints and now works as a sunglasses vendor in Aabpara. 

Ali would have been in grade eight now had his circumstances not led him to drop out.

1) Why you are out of school and working as a vendor?

I studied till grade six and left it after my father died because I had to run the expenses of my house. My mother and two sisters are financially dependent on me.

2) How much do you earn a day and contribute to household expenses?

Selling sunglasses is not very profitable business; I save around Rs.500 daily if a few pairs are sold at a good price. However, it is always difficult to make ends meet and eat a proper meal once a week from my income.

3) What are some of the obstacles you face while working?

Police officials often create difficulties for me and other child vendors in the market and demand a share from our income. They even threaten to lock us up in jail sometimes.

4) Do you miss your school days?

I do miss my school days because I secured good position in my class when I was enrolled and dreamed of becoming a pilot one day.

5) Would you like to go back to school and continue your studies if the government provides you the opportunity?

No.  I don’t remember my courses and my priority now is to feed my family. I wish the government could reduce my financial burden.