Islamabad - Sitting in a dark place, staring at dazzling light and repeating this practice throughout the day is a boring and tough exercise, but unfortunately it is everyday routine of Danish, a 14-year-old boy.

It is very hard to see Danish and other boys of his age engaged in the occupation of welding. With dirty torn clothes and shoes, Danish starts his job early in the morning and leave home late in the evening. He respects his master (Ustad) and tries to fulfil his all orders. Welding metal, which is preheated to around 3000 degree centigrade in hot long summer days, is very difficult task but one is shocked to hear that Danish does this on his own will.

“I left education in 9th class because I was not interested,” he said. The boy who did not have thick gauntlet style gloves, shoes and protective clothing to avoid pain and injury from flying sparks, informed, “I am the eldest among five brothers and sisters. My father is a taxi driver and he did not demand money at the end of the month when I get salary of Rs 7,000.”

He just smiled when the scribe got him realised that playing with fire for the whole day is not a fun and it is tougher than schoolwork.

While standing along Danish, his welding master interfered saying, “Many students lose hope and leave studies in 9th and 10th grades after failure to pass exams. Most of my pupils have left their education before passing the secondary school certificate.” He added that his little brother who is now working with him left school after failure to pass the secondary school certificate.

The main factor contributing to dropping out of students is low learning achievement. Some children repeatedly fail and so stay in the same grade years after years. Such repetition reduces the benefits of schooling and the lengthening of the school cycle increases the cost of education. But the question is why people associated with such students not show right path to them in such a situation. Unluckily, in Pakistan most of parents are uneducated who can never realise the harmful effects of child labour . They are told that their child did not have interest in studies and that’s why he should be taught some technical work.

Even teachers neither bother to find out why their students left studies nor do they try to encourage them to come back to school. Likewise, some parents even did not encourage their children.

The drop-outs are not sole responsible for this as they consider education as burden and leave studies. In fact there are other factors including long distance between home and school, poor quality of education, over-crowding in classrooms, poverty and inflation. Corporal punishment is another much-cited reason for school drop-outs.

The Pakistan Paediatric Association found last year that over 88 percent of surveyed schoolchildren were reportedly suffering from physical abuse and most of them left school in early age. So there is not only need to educate child but also to train teachers for using methods that engage students.

According to Pakistan Education for All (EFA) review report 2015, there is a large stock of 6.7 million out of school children; of which 55 percent are girls.

Educational experts who are just limited in discussion opined that mitigating out-of-school factors that contribute to high dropout rates requires a wide range of policies and programmes.

On government level the ministry of federal education and professional training designed a national plan of action for MDGs Acceleration Framework (MAF) 2013-16 in order to accelerate progress towards education related goals and targets identified by MDG for 2015- 16. The said plan is virtuous but if implemented properly.

As the Economic Survey of Pakistan says the budgetary allocation to education has remained static around 2.0 percent of GDP for the past decade, with a big chunk being spent on recurrent heads mainly salaries, leaving a small amount for quality enhancement such as teacher training, curriculum development, provision of school facilities and monitoring and supervision of education.

There are so many plans on part of private and public sectors but sadly there is no change in life of little labour and so far there is no comprehensive strategy for reaching out to grassroots level. The fact can be judged from so many children engaged in labour even at every nook and corner of the federal capital. The situation is more alarming in rural and sub-urban areas of the country.

It is to be noted here that Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) Survey 2013-14 mentions that the literacy rate of the population (10 years and above) is 58 percent as compared to 60 percent in 2012-13, showing a decline of 2.0 percent. Data shows that literacy remains higher in urban areas (74 percent) than rural areas (49 percent), and is more prevalent for men (81.0 percent) compared to women (66.0 percent) in urban areas. The province-wise data suggests that Punjab leads with 61 percent followed by Sindh with 56 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 53 percent and Balochistan with 43 percent.

—The writer is a freelance contributor.