Shah Fahad Baigal
Traditionally, all societies have given preferences to boys over girls when we talk about educational opportunity, and disparities in educational attainment and literacy rates today reflect patterns that have been shaped by the social and education policies and practices of the past. As a result, virtually all countries face gender disparities.
Free and compulsory basic education is a fundamental right of every human being as guaranteed by the universal declaration of human rights. Educated citizens are a country’s assets and expenditure on education is an investment that reaps long-term benefits. Despite its obvious benefits, education has always taken a backseat when it comes to budgetary allocation and effective utilization of resources in under-developed and developing countries.
The situation of girls’ education in Gilgit-Baltistan must be viewed within the wider Pakistani and south Asian context. Unfortunately, inequalities across education such as gender disparities and urban-rural divide are widespread in Pakistan. Key national indicators show that within south asia, excluding Pakistan and Afghanistan has the lowest gender parity index at 0.78 as well as gross primary school enrolments.
Gilgit-Baltistan has made a rapid progress in education in recent decades. Indeed, in many areas it has kept pace with national levels. Still, together with much of rest of Pakistan, the region falls well short of reaching the education related MDGs.
Weak educational outcomes in Gilgit-Baltistan derive largely from the existing geographic and administrative realities that militate against the effective and efficient delivery of services. Access to education seems to be particularly problematic in those districts that are faced with major geographical hindrances like long distances that discourage girls’ school attendance and where institutions lack the capacity to provide quality education.
In its policies and plans, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan places strong emphasis on the promotion of gender equality and elimination of gender discrimination at all level of education. However, the same is not reflected in its budget allocation and expenditure patterns because traditionally the pace and quality of service delivery in the education sector has been dismal.
I would write down some findings from NEAS (national education assessment system) regarding the expenditures and overall budget.
- The size of GB’s ADP increased by 19.3% from Rs 6789 million in FY 2012-13 to Rs 8100 million in FY 2013-14.
- The total budget allocated to the education sector increased by 22.4% from Rs 361 million in ADP 2012-13 to Rs 442 million in the ADP 2013-14.
- The budget allocated to the gender specific education schemes for boys increased by 45% from Rs 138 million in 2012-13 to Rs 188 million in 2013-14. Contrarily, the total budget allocated to gender sensitive education schemes slightly decreased by 3.4% from Rs 68 million in 2012-13 to Rs 66 million in 2013-14.
- Despite the implementations of various initiatives, girl’s access to education remains a serious challenge to the education system in GB because many reasons: lack of educational institutions, missing basic facilities in schools, high dropout rates of girls, cultural and religious constraints, insufficient budgetary allocation and unutilized development budget, and more than all, lack of effective demand for quality education by the society.
I consider some recommendations to improve the girls’ educational of the people of GB:
- Increase female literacy
- Enhance quality of education
- Improve budget utilization and service delivery