There are over seventy million children in Pakistan, accounting for thirty-five percent of the country’s population. The majority of these children grow up with limited or no access to their fundamental rights to primary health, basic education, and protection from abuse and neglect. Mostly, children of the country are victims of exploitation by their family due to economic challenges. Children are forced to engage in labour, often in hazardous conditions, Since the early nineties, children are increasingly becoming the victims of militancy, either through recruitment as suicide bombers, or through a complete breakdown of the health and education system in military riddled areas in Pakistan. Child marriage, child labour, and gender exploitation also mean that females have to navigate particularly difficult circumstances in their early lives.
The source of inspiration behind the establishment of Bunyad Foundation in 1992 was to make an active contribution to the provision of fundamental rights to children of neglected and marginalized families, who would otherwise be coerced into engaging in dangerous forms of child labour. Owing to its tireless efforts towards education, the Foundation came to the attention of the International Labour Organization, which graciously became a generous donor as far as the provision of financial and technical support was concerned. The help from such organisations, as well as philanthropic assistance from private donors, greatly assisted Bunyad Foundation in emerging as a trusted and leading organization of child rights protection and advocacy in Pakistan.
Since its establishment, Bunyad Foundation has implemented twenty projects solely to address child labour in ten different districts of the Punjab province. These projects ranged from enrolling children exposed to child labour in informal and formal schools, to ensure that their futures can be brighter. The children working in carpet weaving units, soccer ball and surgical industry, brick kilns, cotton fields, and even camel jockey were identified and advocacy was made with their employers, so that these students could be enrolled in informal basic education centers established by Bunyad, where they were provided food, stationary, books and sports items along with education. Between 1995 and 2013, the Foundation has established 10,815 informal and basic education centers for the children involved in labour. Through Bunyad Foundation’s unwavering efforts, 417,756 children, forty-percent male and sixty-percent female, were enrolled in school, out of which seventy-nine percent became fluent at basic reading and writing of Urdu and mathematics.
For the protection of children rights, Bunyad Foundation has implemented twenty projects in ten districts of the Punjab province. Most of the projects were implemented in multiple districts like Sialkot which remained the primary focus of Bunyad Foundation. In Sialkot, nine projects were implemented, as the district had the highest ratio of child labor due to home-based industries of cutlery tools, soccer ball, and other sports items. In the Rahim Yar Khan district, five projects were implemented for the children working in cotton fields and camel jockey.