Approximately 41% of Pakistani girls fail to complete primary schooling, according to a report published by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) and American NGO Results.
“Girls in Pakistan lag behind due to social and cultural restrictions in a patriarchal society,” Syedul Hassan, girls’ education programme coordinator for Oxfam, told The Express Tribune.
The report says that one of the primary issues concerning education in the country is the nominal budget for education and its low priority. In the last four years, GDP allocation for education has remained below two per cent. The current budget covers operational costs and salaries but nothing significant for educational development, including construction of new schools. Out of a total of 146,691 primary schools, an estimated 43.8% are for boys and 31.5% are for girls.
According to the report, governments and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank need to redress the balance and give girls a fair deal. It added that despite strong gender research, multiple strategies, policies and much rhetoric about gender equality, the World Bank often fails to translate these into concrete reform in the way they invest.
On the positive side, the report highlighted how in the last decade more girls have been able to start school, but they remain more likely than boys to be forced out again. It also says that the best means of protecting girls from early marriage is to keep them at school.
Officials working in the development sector say that Pakistan’s education ministry never adopted the concept of gender sensitivity and responsive budgeting. “The ministry needs to chalk out sensitive and responsive budgeting with allocation for boys and girls in different brackets,” Hassan said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, India, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan are among those countries failing to respect the rights of girls to an education, says the report.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2011.