Female illiteracy: 41% of Pakistani girls fail to complete primary school

Published: July 20, 2011
A girl holds a wooden writing board at a Unicef-supported temporary learning centre in the flood-affected Rajanpur district of Punjab. PHOTO: FILE

A girl holds a wooden writing board at a Unicef-supported temporary learning centre in the flood-affected Rajanpur district of Punjab. PHOTO: FILE


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.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • abdul moiz
    Jul 20, 2011 - 11:52AM

    when our girls’ main ambition in life is to land a rich guy of whose tankhwa they will then free ride for the rest of their lives,then all this female literacy brouhaha is just time wasting.

    how many of our ‘well educated’ girls actually go on to have life long careers???

    only 2 of my female colleagues from university went on to work and that too only because one’s husband died and the other got divorced.Why don’t our girls themselves have the ambition,the drive to work even after marriage?? why do they quit their jobs and become satisfied in becoming baby producing machines ?

    inlaws and husbands can’t be blamed for this for that is an easy excuse.if you want to work then you find a way,if it means getting rid of a misogynistic insecure husband then so be it.our ladies need to start asserting themselves and getting divorced from men who hold them back in life.
    killing your dreams under the label of ” adjustment”, ‘ sacrifice” is only deluding one’s self.you are not doing anything noble,you are letting a man drive all over you and your dreams.


  • sarmad ahmad
    Jul 20, 2011 - 12:15PM

    @abdul moiz:

    this aversion of our girls to working or having careers is self defeating for them.By not working or completing their education they leave themselves at the mercy of their husbands and in-laws who can then abuse them as much as they like as they know that she doesn’t have a means of supporting herself since she left her job or education early.
    the mindset of our people has to change.’ kamanay wala’ has to become ‘kamanay wali’ also in our vocabulary.why do we think that only a widow or divorcee should work,why can’t our society encourage all women to have life long careers? why don’t our girls insist on having long careers.
    it is sickening to see the women in our society take great pride in boasting to each other how they smooch off the incomes of their husbands while not working a day in their own lives.pakistani women seriously need to look up the meaning of the word ” self-respect’ in the dictionary.Free loading off prince charming’s salary is not self-respect.


  • Mohd rifaye (india )
    Jul 20, 2011 - 1:13PM

    Mr Moiz : Education is not just abt job, money, work..its about of basic of living, understanding the complex science world, make a better family, live a harmonious living, live as a community, … its like a eating food is not filling your stomach but make a healthy living…Your understanding of education in general is very shortsighted..

    To me ! educate a boy, your education one person ! Educate a girl, your educating whole family…some day, she is gonna be mother, and there she will educate the whole family..


  • Mohd rifaye (india )
    Jul 20, 2011 - 1:15PM

    as an indian its shameful to see india in this list, despite president of India, Loksabha speaker, Opposition leader, and the indias most powerful political party chairperson, couple of cabinet minsters, and chief miniter of two federal state are all females.. way to go India..Lot more work in progress..


  • Ali
    Jul 20, 2011 - 7:37PM

    what do we expect when our govt. has money to make more nukes and buy more weapons and keep corrupt govt. corporations like PIA/Steel/WAPDA etc. alive yet we cannot spend on our own childrens education, which is the most important thing for this country!


  • sana
    Jul 20, 2011 - 10:58PM

    share a link to the report or at least a link to the organization that produced it. Recommend

  • Althar
    Jul 21, 2011 - 4:05AM

    We should spend less on defence & increase spending on education. Its a lesson to indians too. Cost of one war plane can support 100’s of schools.


  • Sunny
    Jul 21, 2011 - 7:15AM

    Girls are afraid to fight there rights those are usrupes by male men!! of course we are not ready to empower them. The only way is they have to courage themself but it want sacrifice however women afriad to sacrifice and there it statusco!!


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