Education and the gender gap: Female literacy rate in villages is near zero, says Gazdar

Social scientist discusses the educational crisis at Habib University lecture.

September 19, 2014
Education and the gender gap: Female literacy rate in villages is near zero, says Gazdar

KARACHI: The literacy rate for women is zero in a number of villages across Sindh, claimed social scientist Haris Gazdar at a public lecture organised by the Yohsin Centre for Social Development at Habib University on Thursday.

Gazdar, who works on political economy and development policy issues, was addressing more than 100 students, academics, researchers and intellectuals regarding women's education and the gender gap in literacy at the Tariq Rafi lecture theatre.

"The global literacy gap for women is said to be 45 per cent but for Muslim women, the number almost doubles, standing at 86 per cent," said Gazdar. Talking about the prevailing educational crisis in the country, he also highlighted the differences between the individual and the society.

"People in the villages fight with each other about petty issues and refuse to send their children, especially their daughters, to schools belonging to other communities," he said, explaining the reasons behind Pakistan's failure in promoting education. "It is necessary for everyone to understand that education is beyond community or caste; it is the only way Pakistan can prosper."

Sharing his views on why the female literacy rate in villages was nearly non-existent, Gazdar said that the problem was one of perception rather than resources. He added that both the government and the public needed to understand the importance of educating females.

"Jinnah was very keen to educate the women of Pakistan, and made comparisons between the education policies of India and China after just three months of independence," said Gazdar, referring to the All-Pakistan Educational Conference held in November 1947 in Karachi.

"The 18th Amendment gives every Pakistani child in the age bracket of five to 16 years the right to free education," asserted Gazdar. "But saying this in the media over and over again does not change the fact that our literacy rate has barely changed in the last five years."

Answering a question about the decentralised education system in the country, Gazdar clarified that Pakistan had come a long way in the last decade. "Our younger generation is more literate and knowledgeable than we were at their age," he said.

The audience interacted with the speaker through a question and answer session that touched upon several areas such as national identity, the Western model of education and the educational implications of the 18th Amendment.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2014.



Madiha Beg | 9 years ago | Reply

Culture is not easily changed. If people are finding that they cannot convince parents to let their girls out of the house, why not bring education to their houses. Tablets are cheap and online education is free (Salman Khans university has free education starting kindergarten). Why not accept that traditional schooling is not the answer for certain cultures?

oBSERVER | 9 years ago | Reply

Devolution of power will change this and by that I mean more Provinces.Most subjugated Punjab should be broken into minimum four Provinces. There will be balance in the overall power sharing which at present is lopsided.On the same basis Baluchistan should be broken into four provinces but here it is the volume of space not population. Sindh and KPK should be left out for the time being.

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