Unheard Right of Children

Written by: Murtaza Talpur & Wajid Saeed

Perhaps, you will be thinking that we are impotent to get fundamental human rights and you are talking about the right of play for children. Hundreds of other rights of deprived communities are being violated,then how it is possible to get this right. No doubt, it is a great tragedy and unresolved enigma in Pakistani society.You are voracious in your way, but I am also not mistaken.

In my childhood, I was not lucky one to play recreational and play based learning activities in my school, because school did not have that many facilities, even if for drinking water and washroom usage, we used to go home from school, or drank water nearby watercourse and defecated openly. Not only in the school, but in our community, we did not have any playgrounds. Call it an unfortunate, lack of trend, lack of giving importance to play or dearth of resources from government.

For purchasing toys, I used to plead to my father but most of the time he refused on the pretext not having money, and that was the reality.At that juncture of life, we did not realize that play had such massive significance and also the right of a child, but now according to the article number 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child CRC) ‘the child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavor to promote the enjoyment of this right.’ Pakistan is the signatory of the convention on the rights of the child that was done on 12th November, 1990. By all means, the government has to work on this right of children.

We all need to understand in this stressful world that play and recreational activities for children are highly important to build up their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. The science of brain development says that play has great power through which children learn and interact with their world, and gain the mental, physical, and social skills necessary to succeed in their lives. It helps children to improve their life skills such as empathy building, cooperation and team work, decision making, problem-solving, critical thinking, and confident building.

Play develops various domains of a child, which are mentioned as:cognitive development in early ages of a child is very important.Human being is born with 100 billion brain neurons that make the connections via synapses that ‘wire’ the intellect for rational. The experience in early childhood affects the categories and quantities of these synaptic connections. For children,play is one of the very critical paths to those experiences which involve their senses, and proffer the groundwork for upcoming learning. While playing children develop and practice the skills of language, critical thinking, problems solving, creativity, imagination and self-regulation. In addition, through play they enlarge their memory skills along with their span of attention. Therefore, children should be provided more stimulating environment, where they freely can play.

Moreover, the play is a great tool for controlling the emotions and feelings of children. In childhood involving them in play helps to increase self-esteem, and self-discipline. It offers great fun, happiness, pleasure and freedom.  Not only this, but they also learn to embrace comicality, laughter and shape their effective managing skills and relaxation techniques. Besides it, play helps children in muscle growth, aerobic endurance, coordination, strength of major organ, and increase bone mineral content. One of the study suggests that children aged 6-17 must play 60 minutes per day. This will make them more bodily fit and appropriate.

Apart from the cognitive, emotional and physical benefits of play, it also enhances the levels of social skills. It is well-suited tool for teaching children to direct the complicated social exchanges with adults. It is experimented that when children interact each other in playground their fear goesaway. In addition to, they also learn to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules, which help them a lot in their practical life. It always gives the message of social cohesion, love, harmony, peace and development.

Unfortunately, we have quite different situation here in our country, because very slight heed is paid towards play and recreational activities. Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN)observed 40percentboys’ high to be without playgrounds – 58 percent in Sindh, 43 percent in KPK, and 27 percent in Punjab. Moreover, 26 percent of the country’s monitored schools also required a serving Physical Training Instructor (PTI). 

To work out on this right of children, all the responsible need to play their roles with high dedication and honesty – the policymakers, parliamentarians, advocates, government and education specialists must take efforts on this unheard right of play for children. Because it is not only the right but as Albert Einstein said ‘play is the highest form of research.’

Freelance Columnists / Development Practitioners

The writers are associated with Peace Mission, an INGO

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