School-age children on streets and child-laborers paid for a song!
- Khin Maung Oo
- The old academic year is coming to an end, and nearly all examinations except BEHS exams have finished. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, parents can now let their children relax a bit and allow them to be free from the great burden of academic learning and all-year exhaustion with school lessons. Some parents have arranged to send their children to monastic summer youth centers popularly known as “Dhamma schools” for learning Buddhist scriptures and character development training. Some children go to summer resort camps or overseas summer trips. These days, most children are going about the town in twos or threes, especially teens may be seen to gather at game-shops or simply wander about. Whatever it is, they seem to lack worries and woes, shown by their smiling faces and loud voices. Meanwhile, ambitious parents, whose aims are for their children to have brighter careers, have arranged for their children to prepare for the new academic year, after taking an adequate amount of leisure time. Generally speaking, their futures appear to be smooth and pleasant. For parents and children, recreation, relaxation and happiness will always follow hard work and all kinds of stress encountered during the examination season. These children may one day become doctors, engineers, professors, captains, majors, colonels and department heads. Oh, what a colorful edifice of hope!
On the other side of the above scenario however, there are many school-age children and underage laborers going about the town and working at various places. They are also teens, but they cannot go to school for a variety of reasons. Though being immature, they have to support their parents with the meager amount of income that they earn by working at road-side stalls, in cafes and at market-places. Their hearts are tender, but their lives are difficult and rough. Just like the children from upper society, they too want peace, happiness and hopes. They surely would like to learn at schools. Yet, the idea of becoming a doctor or an engineer may never appear in their minds, not even in their dreams. Who dare say they will never ever get to higher posts, even if they get the opportunity to learn. Provided that they can be well trained and their abilities be raised, they can become precious jewels for future Myanmar. It is learnt that some children have gone astray while searching for a way to get out of their hard lives. Some wealthy children became drug-addicts whereas some poor children because of peer-group pressure became glue sniffers. Some of these tender minds became merciless and cruel ones. In fact, such situations are very sorrowful and regrettable for
What is worse than that, many of our national ethnic children are being displaced by armed conflicts, not to mention the matter of getting the opportunity to study at schools. As long as these armed conflicts exist in their regions, they cannot enjoy the fruits of the National Education Strategic Plan. If these children get the opportunity to learn at schools in their peaceful regions, they can become leaders who can lead the country to peace and stability. To sum up, let us take part in the campaign, “National Education Strategic Plan,” launched by the Union government so that our school-age children and child-laborers working for cheap wages can get opportunities for attending school.