Little vendors of Peshawar: Away from school, out in bazaars

In KP 1.1 million out of 1.8 million out of school children have never been enroled in any educational institute

PESHAWAR: The sun is ready to set but the hustle bustle in Saddar Bazaar is at its peak, each vendor busy to finish their merchandise before the day ends.

On a corner of the busy street, sits seven-year-old Danyal Khan waiting to sell fancy rings in return for a handful of rupees that he would take home – an amount his family is relying on for food before they sleep.

“My day in the market starts at 11am and ends at 9pm,” Danyal tells “I work for over 10 hours each day but all I take home is Rs300 to 700.”

Selling rings in bazars and taking home a meagre amount is all what Danyal has been doing since a year. But he is not alone in going through this daily grind at an age when children should be worrying about completing homework, not finishing merchandise.

Danyal Khan sits with the rings he is out to sell in Saddar Bazaar. Photo: Qaiser Khan/

There are many like him who can be seen in Saddar Bazaar selling balloons and corns or cleaning cars and working in automobile shops. These children have not been pulled out of schools to earn an income to feed their families, but they are among the lot that has never been enroled in any educational institute.

Khyber Pakhtunkha is home to a large number of children whose financial state has kept them at a distance from schools, forcing them to carry merchandise and tools instead of holding books and pencils. There are 1.8 million out of school children in the province out of which 1.1 million have never been enroled in any school, as per a report on out of school children from 2017-18. The report also showed that the ratio of never-enroled children was much higher than that for those who dropped out.

During the survey that was carried out for the number of out of school children, it was found out that parents did not want to put their children in school because three main reasons – non-availability of school in the vicinity, lack of interest and poverty.

A boy washes a bucket during work. 

Non-availability of schools in areas has been reported to be one of the reasons that has kept one-third of the 1.1 million never-enroled children away from getting an education. This is because distance brings with it transportation cost which is heavy on pockets of families already struggling to make ends meet. Poverty is another factor that has held back these children from sitting in a classroom.

While talking to, a child rights activist, Arshad Mehmood said, community involvement was essential to put the children to where they belonged i.e. schools.

Photo: Qaiser Khan/

“The basic question is not the scarcity of the resources, but the use of those resourses in a more meaningful way,” he said. “Those children who are not going to schools ultimately end up working off jobs where they are exploited, sexually abused and made to engage in criminal activities.”

However, Director KP Elementary and Secondary Education Farid Khattak attributed the reason behind a high number of out of school children to lesser schools. He said there department needed Rs444 billion to construct more than 9,000 school for and recruit around 60,000 new teachers.