Girls have become Victims of this Patriarchal Society, Education Suffers!
Written by Mehr Parwar Education Advocacy Program Officer Hashoo Foundation
One of the commitments of National Education Policy 2009 is ‘Promoting equity in education with the aim to eliminate social exclusion and provision of increased opportunities to marginalized groups, particularly girls’. Further the education policy states that Pakistan shall endeavor “to remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within minimum possible period”. Reforms have been made to improve the situation of girls’ education. Hence, due to lack of proper planning and gaps at implementation level female education ratio in the country remained low and the target is not reached yet. Statistics of Pakistan Education Report 2016 shows Out Of School Girls (OOSG) ratio in Primary to secondary classes (Age 5-16) as 51% in overall the country. The education reports and physical observations of schools reveal that consequently various hurdles and hindrances have been preventing girls to attend schools in the country especially in underdeveloped areas. For instance most of the schools in such areas fail to provide a favorable environment for girls in the schools. Henceforth, problems such as scarcity of washrooms for girls, unfriendly teachers’ behavior, lack of well qualified and trained teachers, non- existence of health facilities and adolescence problems along with fear of harassment persist as common issues that demoralize girls from overall education. Furthermore, schools fee, travel expenses and stationery expenses in higher grades are other factors that reduce the interest of parents and girls in pursuing education after a certain age and they remain bound to their homes.
Reports on education issues show that girls continue to stay at home after primary and middle as most of the high schools in underdeveloped areas are far-away from homes. Thus, primary education is often accessible and much closer, but secondary schools tend to be inaccessibly far away from many school-age girls cause to increase more dropouts and out of school girls ratio in the country. Moreover, there is no provision of learning facilities for needy girls such as monthly stipend to meet stationery and lunch box expenses in the school. Likewise, women and girls have become the victims of male dominant society where male made decisions literally put girls far behind in education and development. Similarly child labor has been remained another main factor to limit girls’ movement to their homes merely. This can be a result of no awareness or lack of capacity building of parents about importance of girls’ education.
A report of a newspaper, The Nation Feb 21, 2015 shows that in KPK and Balochistan women are severely bound by cultural constraints and prejudices. That’s why in Balochistan, female literacy rate stands between 15 to 25%. Hence, most of the women are involved in reproductive, productive and community work for 14 to 18 hours. The same report further depicts that, 51% women remain with their families by force to just bear children within their houses.
Bringing improvement in above mentioned problems is not easy task as it needs rigorous efforts, systematic planning along with sincere commitment at all levels. First and foremost, important step is utilization of available existing resources in the schools for the maximum benefit of students. In this regard federal and provincial government need to play their supportive role through providing additional budget to improve infrastructure in underdeveloped areas of the country. Education department of the state and respective school management can bring recommendations in their consideration such as; utilization of the existing infrastructure which is currently not in use of schools, conduction of need analysis surveys and development of strategic plans for construction of new schools in underdeveloped areas. Adding that, the provision of medical facilities in the schools is another dire need to work on. Similarly, the Education department must ensure merit based recruitment of new teachers and discourage any sort of political influence and favoritism. Along with these steps conduction of the need based trainings and provision of technical guidance and support to teachers through conducting classroom observations and feedback sessions is essential to bring positive change in the schools. Furthermore, well qualified, trained, energetic and sincere principals must be placed in the schools to ensure effective school management and administration. Principal and teachers must be provided with especial training on topics such as; conducive and enabling school environment, gender education, child rights, girls’ rights and psychosocial support. In adding the schools must arrange enrichment programs on leadership, reading, health/life skills and summer school programs for girls’ students who were never enrolled or dropped out. School wise strategic planning on Whole School Improvement Program is also required to meet school improvement areas on yearly bases.
Government should pass gender fair inheritance laws, provide incentives for girls and young women to improve their educational attainment and become gainfully employed, Educational institution along with the support of government must arrange education campaigns to transmit positive messages about the value of girls’ education and their rights of education to sensitize communities. The government should provide monthly stipend for girls to encourage girls’ education in backwards areas. Further It needs to work on smooth transition of schools from pre-primary school to primary school and to secondary and higher secondary education. In Pakistan, for every 75 primary schools only 25 middle schools exist and in some provinces, for every 91 primary schools only 5 middle schools exist. [A Report on Education, December 19, 2013]
To overcome this issue, government and development sector must come together and implement projects and programs based on long term goals to influence policies and to promote principles of inclusive and sustainable development in education sector.