Pakistan has paid a little attention to female’s education. Female education has been an orphan child in our society due to the double standards. Still only 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is allocated for the welfare of education which is quite insufficient to meet the demands of education. No economic progress is possible without female education as it requires trained human resources. We cannot progress economically, socially and spiritually, until and unless we involve females. Gender equality is a key to all kind of progress. No country has progressed without involving women in in education. The secret of India and Sirilanka’s development in term of education imbedded is imbedded to female education. Both countries’ educational policy focus on gender equality. Therefore, in order to bring gender equality, it is essential to provide equal opportunities to both; men and women in education and to make female equally empowered as men in decision making in every mode of life. It is very essential to educate women in male dominated society such as Pakistan because “educating girls delivers a high return than other investment in the developing world”. (World Bank Report, 2011).
In 2001, sponsored by the world education forum, convened by United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and World Bank representatives of 164 countries including development agencies gathered in Dakar (Senegal), and reaffirmed their commitment in providing Education for All (EFA). At the end they prepared 2000 word Dakar framework for Action, Education for All. All participants including Pakistan committed themselves to achieving the EFA goals and targets by the year 2015.
Pakistan is a signatory of EFA documents. According to this, Pakistan acknowledged education as a fundamental right for all regardless of gender. As the goal 5 of EFA report states, “eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.
To achieve goal of gender equality, in 2001 it was hoped that gender focus is expected to be an important part of the economic development strategies. By the year 2011 it is expected that 69% female literacy will be achieved. Emphasis will be laid on economic and social empowerment of women. Gender gap particularly in social indicators will be removed and better quality of life for women will be ensured. Gender equality and empowerment will be promoted to combat poverty, hunger, and disease and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.
In this regard, Pakistan’s performance has been very poor in achieving the goals particularly the equality in gender. As PILDA Briefing paper 2010 reports that “Pakistan, unfortunately, is one of the 6 countries regarded as being far from the EFA goals” (p.5). Women education has not been appreciated yet. Due to internal civil war and conflict many female schools were destroyed. In Pakistan 1 out of 2 girls is still illiterate, despite the increase of girls’ literacy by 8% in the last 10 years. Recent facts released by Pakistan Educational Task Force 2011, indicates that 1 in 3 the proportion of rural women have never attended school. Pakistan has only 94 women for every 100 men, one of the most unequal distributions in the world. Fewer than half of women have never been to school and just 35 of these living in rural area.
New National Educational Policy (NEP) 2009 asserts that, all children boys and girls shall be brought inside school and also achieving 86% literacy rate by the year 2015. Recent statistics, released by Pakistan economic survey 2010-11 indicates that “the overall literacy rate (age 10 years and above) is 57.7 percent (69.5 percent for male and 45.2 percent for female) compared to 57.4 percent (69.3 percent for male and 44.7 percent for female) for 2008-09. In Sindh about 80% women are illiterate and in Baluchistan only 16% rural women can read and write”. The Trained teachers in primary education (% of total teachers) in Pakistan were last reported at 84.23 in 2010. The Primary education; teachers (% female) in Pakistan was last reported at 47.72 in 2010. These figures show that Pakistan has failed to bring quality and equality in term of gender education.
Women in Pakistan experience problems at present. These relate to poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, discrimination and lack of participation in decision-making. Global Monitoring Report 2011 (GMR) shows that there are about 8 girls in school for every 10 boys at the primary level, and even fewer at the secondary level. “Gender disparities are particularly wide in camps in South and West Asia, especially in Pakistan, where 4 girls are enrolled for every 10 boys at the primary level”. Actually Pakistan is confronted with various issues including deteriorating law and order situation and instable political system due to which education was ignored and there are fewer chances of achieving EFA .Various studies evidence that poverty, cultural norms restricting freedom of movement of girls and women, gender division of labor, shortage of schools and female teachers, low budget and funding for education are main hurdles on the way to educational progress and development of female education. However, if we take below mentioned recommendations seriously, it is hoped the goal of EFA in term of gender discrimination will be achieved.
- All efforts should be made to enhance the budgetary allocation up to 7% of GDP, as suggested in in the National Educational policy (2009). Pakistan should spend available money wisely on education of girls.
- The Provincial ministry of education needs to develop a gender focus group, with specialist in Gender in education and a portfolio to plan and implement gender strategies at the provincial level. Some of these strategies should include advocacy campaign, curriculum and textbook guidelines, capacity building for teacher educator, curriculum developers and textbook writers, and developing a mechanism for the implementation of a gender strategy.
- The composition of textbook author teams needs to be ensure equal participation by women. Gender training should be a prerequisite in inclusion in textbook author team.
- Without enough primary schools, it is impossible to achieve universal primary education.Sufficient number of schools with quality for both boys and girls is a requirement for equality in access to education.
- In Pakistan, girls are often not permitted to attend school unless they have a female teacher. We have only 47% female teachers in primary education whereas majorities are still male teachers. It is therefore very important that there is gender parity in the teaching staff. Moreover, education institutions should be made safe and secure to female students and teachers.
- Literacy rates for girls and women are consistently lower than rates for boys and men. Achieving 50% improvement and gender equality in education by year 2015 seems impossible.
We must clearly focus gender equality. It is time to have transition from home to school.
the contributor is studying at Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development.