Nearly 22.5 million children are out of school in Pakistan. Is this the future we want?
The report titled ‘Shall I feed my daughter or educate her’: Barriers to girls’ education in Pakistan’, deduced shortage of government schools was the biggest reason behind girls not having access to education. It further revealed that only 68% of primary school age girls attended school, compared with 79% of boys. By 9th grade, sadly only 13% of girls were still in school.
“The Pakistan government’s failure to educate children is having a devastating impact on millions of girls,” said HRW women’s rights director, Liesl Gerntholtz, in a press release. “Many of the girls we interviewed are desperate to study, but instead are growing up without the education that would help them have options for their future,” she said.
Considering that as of 2017, Pakistan spent less than 2.8% of its GDP on education, which is much lower than the globally recommended 6%, the solution of the out of school issue is not something that can be fixed by forcing children to attend schools, quite simply because there are not enough schools to do so. The government needs to invest into setting up schools and also making them safe, and productive.
The HRW stated that in addition to these factors with the education system, girls are forcibly stopped from attending school by external factors, such as child labor, child marriage, harassment, insecurity and even gender discrimination. Which certainly paints a bleak picture for the future of Pakistan which rests on this generation.
There is still hope for the government to sort out and come up with an executable plan since it has only been about 90 days since it came in power. This is our best bet, as HRW’s lawyer in Pakistan, Saroop Ijaz stated, “For PTI education was a major campaign point. We just hope it translates into action as soon as possible because the scale of the problem is huge.”