See More on Facebook

Culture and society

Educating girls in Pakistan

What is keeping Pakistan’s girls out of school.


Written by

Updated: December 20, 2018

New reports from the seven districts that make up former tribal area of Pakistan presented a grim picture of the state of girls’ education in the area. Nearly 79pc of girls drop out in the early years, while 50pc drop out in the middle and secondary years.

The neglected region is only now being ‘mainstreamed’ with the KP merger, so perhaps these figures are not particularly shocking. And while it certainly adds to the burden of a rising population and out-of-school children in the province, the lack of investment in girl’s education isn’t a KP-specific problem.

‘Shall I feed my daughter or educate her?’: The abysmal state of girls’ education in Pakistan

Article 25-A of the Constitution makes it clear that the government has to provide free education to all children from the age of five to 16. But many continue to be overlooked by the state.

While the private sector and public-private initiatives provide education in areas and to people the state cannot reach, there is a significant percentage that still gets left out. According to HRW, nearly 32pc of primary-school-age girls are out of school, and only 13pc are still in school by ninth grade.

Education: 23m broken promises

There are several reasons for this, all interconnected. While education and textbooks may be free of cost, there are other expenses such as admission fees, school bags, uniforms, shoes, stationery, etc. In households with several children, the added costs overburden poor families. Private school, even if ‘low cost’, are out of the question for this group.

Explore: Why attempts to reform Pakistani education fail

The second issue is transport. Schools are often at a long walking distance, and parents may not be able to afford rickshaws to pick and drop their children.

While the vast majority of public schools in Pakistan are at the primary level, secondary schools are at even greater distances. So even if they complete primary education, they are unable to study further due to logistical constraints.

Linked to the issue of transport is safety. Parents cannot always accompany children, and when the girl child hits puberty or begins to ‘look’ mature, she (rightly) fears harassment and abduction. Tied to these fears are notions of ‘honour’, but these are often a cover for legitimate security threats or attempts at masking poverty.

Another reason for losing interest in education is the presence of apathetic teachers, who may turn a blind eye to bullying or administer corporal punishment and be guilty of discrimination.

Girls, especially the eldest daughters, are kept behind to help out with household chores or take care of younger siblings. Seen as an economic ‘burden’ or just another mouth to feed, they are then married off and forced to be mothers when they are still children themselves.

When parents see educated family members unable to get jobs in an insecure market, they are less likely to invest in education for their daughters. The cycle of ignorance continues.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Dawn
About the Author: Dawn is Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society

Marvel at these superheroes’ Nepali makeover

Sunny Shakya explores his inner child with his exhibition ‘Toygraphy’. A portrait of Captain America and Hulk figurines riding a bicycle in Kathmandu’s streets welcomes visitors at the entrance of Siddhartha Art Gallery in Baber Mahal Revisited. The beloved action figures have red tika on their forehead, jamara tucked behind one ear, and red and white garlands around their neck—all of which symbolises Dashain celebrations. Hulk is even wearing a dhaka topi and a chain of Nepali flag. One look at the poster, and any Marvel fan can get drawn to the Nepali look on the blockbusters’ superheroes. But 30-year-old Sunny Shakya’s exhibition, titled Toygraphy, offers more than just Nepali versions of some iconic characters of Marvel Cinematic Universe—there are plenty of other toys that are part


By The Kathmandu Post
July 19, 2019

Culture and society

Philippines passes anti-harassment law

Duterte dared to comply with law against sexual harassment. President Rodrigo Duterte, whose rape jokes have sparked outrage among women’s rights groups, was dared on Tuesday to comply with a law that he had signed penalizing catcalling, wolf whistling, persistently telling sexual jokes and other forms of sexual harassment in public. “President Duterte’s signing of the ‘Bawal Bastos Law’ … throws an ironic shade on himself, as he represents the single most brazen violator of the law’s intent with his staple macho-fascist remarks,” the Gabriela women’s party list said in a statement. The 74-year-old President is the “chief propagator of a culture that degrades and objectifies women, and that which exhorts catcallers, sexual offenders and even uniformed personnel to disrespect women,” Gabriela said. “Under this context, implementing the law will certainly be a challenge,”


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
July 17, 2019

Culture and society

Japan to subsidize fishermen’s disposal of ocean plastic

The government will pay fishermen to dispose and collect ocean plastic. The government plans to provide assistance for the collection and disposing of plastic waste in the ocean (see below) picked up by fishing vessels, according to sources. It intends to subsidize most of the cost borne by municipalities in disposing of plastic garbage that is dragged up along with fish in trawl nets, among other methods. Amid growing international concern over how to deal with ocean pollution, the government hopes to work with fishermen to accelerate a reduction in plastic waste. According to the Fisheries Agency, fishermen drag up large amounts of plastic bottles, bags and other kinds of waste along with the fish they catch when using trawl nets and other methods. They have to pay to dispose of the collected waste if they bring it back to land, so the fishermen often thr


By The Japan News
July 17, 2019

Culture and society

What South Asian sci-fi can tell us about our world

Dismissing sci-fi and fantasy as low-brow or trashy isn’t just a desi stance, although it might be more pronounced. My first encounter with a work of desi science fiction was very much by accident. During my undergraduate studies at the English department at Karachi University, while idly browsing through a professor’s personal collection on her desk, I came across Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s Sultana’s Dream, a English-language short story set in a feminist utopian world written by a Bengali Muslim woman in 20th century colonial India. Up until then, my study of literature had been mostly white, mostly male authors, an unsurprising fact when we take into account the (Western) literary canon’s inherent whiteness and maleness, as well as the institutional history of English departments as tools of the colonial project — teaching works


By Dawn
July 16, 2019

Culture and society

Beer manufacturers told not to confuse Muslims

Brewers told not to make non-alcoholic beer. Beer manufacturers in the country have been told not to confuse consumers especially Muslims by producing alcohol-free drink. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof (pic) stressed that alcohol-free beer is only confusing Muslims and it is not a wise move. “Using the name alcohol-free beer is confusing as the process of producing the drink including distillation is carried out in the system used to produce alcohol products. “We know the alcohol-free drink is produced by a beer manufacturer but it would cause confusion as some Muslims thought they could consume the drink,” he said. Mujahid, who is also Parit Buntar MP, was commenting on a viral promotion of zero-alcohol beer by a beer manufacturer at a convenient store. In this regard, Mujahid advised Muslims not to consume any pr


By The Star
July 15, 2019

Culture and society

Indonesian pre-teen writes to Trump

Why do you always export your waste to my country. A surge of waste imports into cities in East Java has prompted a teenager to write to United States President Donald Trump to protest about the incoming trash. Aeshnina Azzahra, a 12-year-old from Gresik, East Java, wrote that the river in her neighborhood was “very dirty and smelly” as many factories dispose of their waste carelessly on land and water. She said she had to write to Trump because the US was among the largest exporters of waste to Indonesia. “Why do you always export your waste to my country? Why don’t you take care of your own waste,” she wrote in her letter. Aeshnina also participated in a protest held by environmentalists in front of the United States Consulate General in Surabaya, East Java, on Friday. She said America’s waste had also polluted Indonesia’s oceans and consumed by


By The Jakarta Post
July 15, 2019