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Published Date: Apr 16, 2014

The Impact of Children’s Work on Education

Executive Summary

SDPI at the request of the ILO undertook to conduct a school-based survey in Islamabad between August and November 2005 to examine the impact of children’s work on their education. Children between the ages of 5-15 years of age were divided into the following three major categories:

(i)        Attend school and do not work (Category A)

(ii)       Attend school and do waged work (Category B)

(iii)    Attend school, do waged work and also engage in domestic chores in their own homes (Category C)

Objectives: The main objective of this research was to understand and document the impact of children’s work on education in order to make policy recommendations for intervention. For this, we focused on:

  •     Determining the negative effects, if any, of work and of domestic duties on education.
  •     Establishing whether paid and unpaid work combined with schooling is less harmful to the child’s learning possibilities than work that is at the expense of schooling.
  •     Examining damages caused to the child’s learning by child labor.
  •     Assessing the impact of child labor hours on human capital accumulation

This report is divided into six parts comprising of: the background note and salient features; research methodology; survey data on children; family background, household information and parents’ perceptions; teachers’ views and; field impressions and analysis.
Methodology: We interviewed a total number of 126 students amongst whom 42 each belonged to the three different categories of children mentioned above. The localities chosen were Bega Saeeda (F-11), Mehrabadi (G-11), French Colony (F-7/4) and F-6/4. The total number of schools was four. Among these schools, there were 4 Aagahi Centers funded by the ILO for working children and run in the second shift at federal government schools. Only one school that had regular students coming in the morning constituted our control group. Gender wise distribution of children was kept in mind while selecting them for interviews. We conducted 70 interviews with female children out of a total of 126. The team also conducted structured interviews and informal discussions with the parents/guardians and teachers of these children and went to the home of each and every child who was interviewed. However due to the unavailability of parents of some children despite several visits paid to their homes, the number of parents’ interviews is not equal to those of the children.

Salient Features: The salient features provide the main points that came from children’s responses and are noteworthy:

  •     The desire of all working children to be enrolled in full time schooling.
  •     The desire for education is high but expectations of achieving that level is considerably lower than the desire.
  •     80% children do domestic work to earn a living; of these, 70% are girls.
  •     Among child workers, 78% were less than age 10 when they began work while the rest were in the 14-16 years category.
  •     44% were unwilling workers; 40% were willing; whereas 12 % were convinced by their parents to begin waged work.
  •     50% said they work due to poverty; 38% said it adds to their family income; others said that illness or death of a family member compelled them to work or to pay off loans.
  •     A majority felt that the work they do wont be any use to them in the future and 48% felt that they learn nothing from the work they do.
  •     A majority said that their family gets angry if they do not go to school.
  •     Gendered and age context of helping with homework: sisters, mothers followed by brother and father.
  •     45% said they feel tired in school
  •     99% felt that their studies will affect their future prospects
  •     80% said that they are not mainly responsible for domestic work in their own home because they hardly left any time
  •     66% of children were less than 9 years when they started helping in chores in their own households
  •     Of 35% respondents who normally feel tired, a majority of them was those children who study, work and do domestic work, followed by those that study and work
  •     Slightly less than a half of the total respondents that is 47% said that they have health problems. A majority of them was those children that study, work and do domestic work, followed by those who study and work. Stomach pain was the most commonly reported illness.
  •     When asked why they have health problems a majority replied they do not know while some reported that it is due to over work, beyond their capacity. And others said that the economic activity that they started earlier on in life had this impact.
  •     A majority of children said that they like to play with their friends and like to watch television. Many reported these two activities as their favorite activities while some others said they like music and singing.
  •     Over 80% children said they have friends and like to play with their friends.

Survey Data on Children: The section on survey data provides a detailed analysis of questionnaire data that was gleaned from the children as well as from parents. This section provides a window into the children’s working conditions, their schooling and living conditions.

Family Background, Household Information and Parents Perceptions: This section gives a socio-economic profile of the households of our sample population and highlights parent’s perceptions about their children’s education, work and future.

Teachers’ Views: The section on teachers’ views, based on structured interviews, provides us with teachers’ concerns about children’s learning abilities, the reasons for dropping out and the problems they face.
Field Impressions and Analysis: The last section, entitled field impressions contains a number of subsections. These relate to observations about children, parents, schools and teachers, gender dimensions of various issues encountered by children, locality and economic conditions of respondents.