PUBLISHED: 03:11 EST, 2 April 2012 | UPDATED: 03:54 EST, 2 April 2012
A Pakistani schoolboy died after dousing himself in petrol and setting himself alight because his family couldn’t afford to buy him a school uniform.
Promising student Kamran Khan, 13, attended a local private school for free on a scholarship but was embarrassed his parents couldn’t replace his old worn-out school uniform.
When his parents refused to buy him a new one he threatened to commit suicide before dousing himself in petrol and setting himself on fire.
Kamran Khan, 13, set himself on fire when his parents couldn’t afford to buy him a new white shalwar kameez, the loose-fitting shirt and pants worn by both men and women in Pakistan, to wear to school. Stock image
He suffered burns over 65 per cent of his body – and later died in hospital from his wounds.
His brother Saleem Khan told how Kamran had never asked for anything before but begged his parents for days for a new white shalwar kameez, the loose-fitting shirt and pants worn by both men and women in Pakistan, after joining the school.
Saleem told how Kamran argued with his mother – a maid – who lost her patience and slapped the boy, telling him they couldn’t afford new school clothes.
He said the teenager then threatened to commit suicide if they didn’t get him one.
Kamran then stormed out of the family home in Shabqadar, a town with a population of 60,000 in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, before dousing himself in petrol and setting himself on fire.
He was rushed to an army-run hospital in Punjab province but the family could only raise one-tenth of the $5,500 they needed for his treatment and so he did not get the care he needed.
Saleem told how his family had been struggling to get by and provide for their children, even with the school fees waved.
Desperate: The schoolboy used to wander the streets of Shabqadar, a town with a population of 60,000 in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to find scrap metal for extra cash
He said their father borrowed money from relatives to buy a work visa to Saudi Arabia four months ago but has not managed to find a job there.
Kamran used to wander the streets in his hometown looking for bits of metal scrap and other items to sell as a way of making extra money for the family.
The family’s plight is similar to many of Pakistan’s poor, desperately hoping that education could be the ticket to climbing up from the bottom rung of society.
According to the world bank, around 60 per cent of Pakistan’s 170 million people live at the poverty level on less than $2 per day.
Public school fees average only around $2 per month but even this is often too much for poor Pakistanis with large families.
About 30 per cent of Pakistanis have less than two years of education, according to a report issued last year by the Pakistani government, while the results are poor even for those who do attend school.
Around 50 per cent of school children aged between 6 and 16 can’t read a sentence, the government report said.