Just another day for PU child workers
LAHORE, May 2(Daily Times): The majority of workers employed at Punjab University canteens, hostels
and shops are under the age of 18.
labourers, mostly hailing from villages and towns across the Punjab, work up to
12-hour days, seven days a week at monthly wages ranging from Rs 1,200 to Rs
They are given a week's leave after three or four months on the
job, and are also usually granted leave for Eid and other public holidays when
university shops are closed. On Labour Day, child labourers were found busy at
their respective jobs on campus. These children work as canteen boys and helpers
at fruit shops, hostel messes, general stores, restaurants, etc. Aged between 8
and 18, these children roam through the hostels and up and down three floors to
deliver orders. They have no health cover and receive no education.
"What else can we do if we don't have any proper means to live? After
all, we have to work to survive," Waseem, a 12-year-old boy working at a fruit
shop on the university premises said. He said that he runs the shop
with his brother and father. "Neither my brother nor I want to study because we
want to help feed our family," he added.
Twelve-year-old Iqbal, who
works at a samosa stall, said he was sent from his home in Shorkot by his father
to find work and earn money. "How can I get an education in this situation?" he
The father of an eight-year-old boy who works in the canteen of
boys' hostel number 16, Hazrat Ali Hall, said that he had insisted that his son
go to school, but as the child was not interested in studies, he asked him to
then work instead.
A shopkeeper at the university, Shahbaz said that the practice of hiring children should be eliminated from the
university. He said that it is very disturbing as the children have no health
cover, are not privy to educational facilities, and have to work for very
nominal wages. He added that the children are often also scolded by their
employers and sometimes by university students as well. Many of the children
employed at the university, on the other hand, told that students
are sympathetic and often ask about their family's situation and why they are
working instead of studying.
"Child labour at the university is not new.
It been witnessed for the past several years," said an owner of a campus shop.
"However, it is the university that needs to take solid steps, otherwise
desperate families will continue to send their kids to avail earning
opportunities at the campus." PU registrar Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan said most
of the children working on campus were relatives of canteen owners and other
adult workers. "There are very few children working at the university campus,
and every effort is made to provide them with educational facilities. They are
all well taken care of," Khan said.
Pakistan has ratified the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, which requires countries to protect
children from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely
to be hazardous to or to interfere with the child's education, health, physical,
mental, spiritual, moral or social development.