As article 24A of the Pakistani constitution states that it’s the right of every child to be provided with free and compulsory education from the age of 5 to 16. Now let’s look at the figures of out of school children in Pakistan. (Brace yourself for a shock)
According to a recent report named “should I feed my daughter or educate her?” issued by HRW (Human Rights Watch) 22.5 million children are devoid from their basic right to education.
32% of primary age girls are out of school while in the boys this ratio is up to 21%.In grade six, drop out ratio in girls’ shoots up to 59% compared to boys 49%. In grade 9, only 13% percent girls remain in schools.
If we take a look across the country, Baluchistan is the most affected province where 75% of women have not attended school at all. 81% girls had not finished their primary school education while in men this ratio is 52%.
Many girls were interviewed for this report and they showed a deep interest in getting education but their dreams and aspirations are crushed by variety of factors which we will discuss later in this article.
MAJOR OBSTACLES IN GIRL’S EDUCATION
In a patriarchal society like Pakistan, it comes as no surprise that girls are being denied their basic right to education. People are conservative and backward when it comes to educating their girls. There are different reasons which contribute to this problem. We are going to discuss some common factors as mentioned in global reports.
It is the main hurdle in the way of girl’s education. We live in a country where many people are struggling even to fulfill their basic needs like food, shelter and clothes. Education is not a first priority for these people.
Although government has taken many initiatives to provide basic and free education but there are still many things like books, stationery, uniform etc. that poor people cannot afford.
Even if parents somehow manage to arrange these things, first priority is given to male child. Therefore mostly poor girls are not able to continue their education.
It plays a key role in when it comes to girl’s education. We all have witnessed this discrimination at some point in our life. Boys are given priority over girls in everything but more so when it comes to education.
Parents think of it as an investment to educate their boys so they can earn money through it. While girls are married off early so it is not considered a good investment to spend on girl’s education.
Rather they are given dowry instead of spending the money on education.
Harassment in schools and on roads
It is also a major barrier in girl’s education. Parents don’t allow their girls to go to school because of the harassment they can face while going to school.Pakistan is a country where girls are harassed everywhere so parents stop their girls from going to school in order to protect their character.
Child marriage and child labor
These are some other cause contributing towards higher illiteracy rate in girls. In Pakistan usually 21% girls are married before 18 and 3% are married before 15.Usually girls are considered as “burden” in society. Parents want to get them married asap.
In interior Sindh and tribal areas, girls are usually married off at young age considering it to be the only purpose of their life. These kinds of people think that girl’s education is waste of time and money. Child labor is also common in Pakistan.
Because of poverty parents send their children to work so they can earn some money rather then spending it on education.
Inadequate number of girl’s schools
This stops the girl from acquiring basic education. There are far and few government schools for girls in country. Mostly girls have to walk great distance to attend the school and even then the schools are over crowded and do not provides best education.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO LOWER THE ILLITERACY RATE IN GIRLS
Now the question arises what are some basic steps that should be taken to combat this problem.
Low budget for education
In Pakistan, only 2.5% of GDP is allotted to education while the budget for defense rises up to 20% of GDP. The government has failed to increase the education budget per year as the situation demands an education emergency and for this the budget should be doubled up for the education sector.
Mandatory education for everyone
The government should make education mandatory for every child and encourage parents to enroll their children in schools. By making more schools so everyone have access to basic education, illiteracy rate can be controlled.
Poverty rate should be controlled
In order to make girl’s education easier for common people, the poverty rate should be brought down. The main reason of illiteracy is poverty so we need to take drastic steps to increase per person income.
Dowry should not only be discouraged but banned altogether. Poorer sections normally don’t send their daughters to school thinking they can save for dowry. They think it is more important than making them self sufficient.
Remove Gender discrimination
Moreover, discrimination between genders should be discouraged at all costs. We as a society need to change our thinking and encourage others to do so too. We can encourage our neighbors, our household staff and other underprivileged people around us to send their kids especially girls to school.
VALUE OF GIRL’S EDUCATION
Napoleon once said,
“Give me an educated mother and I shall promise you the birth of civilized and educated nation.”
Undoubtedly education of a woman is so much more important than men. As a wise man once said,
“If you educate a boy you educate a person but if you educate a girl you educate a generation.”
Indeed an educated girl plays an important role in building up a civilized and developed society.
SITUATION IN PAKISTAN
Our religion also makes it obligatory for everyone to gain knowledge be it a man or women. But unfortunately, despite being an Islamic country, Pakistan is seriously lagging behind in women education.
In this era of technology where education is the key to raising of nations, our women are not given an opportunity to obtain an even basic education. The government is failing to cater to the educational needs of children but especially of little girls.
We should step forward for girl’s education
As a society, we should start contributing by ourselves. Education is not bound to schools only. You can educate girls, anywhere. If you know someone who wants to learn, then lend them a helping hand.
It’s high time we, people of Pakistan step forward to take matters into our own hands and change the destiny of this nation.