The newly-elected government has many challenges to face and likely the most important is about the security and education, especially girls’ education. Education in Pakistan is facing a severe crisis and it is imperative for the new government to take credible steps for educating the next generation.

Per stats, five out of every 10 children in Pakistan remain out of school. A report issued by World Bank revealed that 130 million children are out of school across the world, with a majority being girls. Barriers to girl’s education persist around the globe and the situation in Pakistan is no different. There is a saying that goes, “If you invest in a girl she will become a woman tomorrow and then she will invest in everyone else’’. Yet the investment is facing several hurdles.

The recent report issued by the World Bank shows that a country would bear an immense loss of earning and life time productivity of a girl if she stays out of the school. The report says that limiting educational opportunities for girls and barriers to completing 12 years of education costs countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion dollars annually. Interestingly, the report also finds that primary education is not enough and across many indicators, benefits from primary education are limited. Too many girls drop out of school prematurely, especially in low income countries and low educational attainment for girls has negative consequences not only for them, but also for their children and household, as well as for their community and society.

This study shows that educational attainment’s impact on girls is effective in six domains. (1) Earnings and standards of living; (2) child marriage and early childbearing; (3) fertility and population growth; (4) health, nutrition, and well-being; (5) agency and decision-making; and (6) social capital and institutions. Globally, 89 percent of girls complete their primary education and only 77 percent complete their secondary education. However, development indicators show that this is not enough for sustainability.

Reversal

Statistically, education has progressed in Pakistan, with about 97 per cent of children enrolled in primary school in 2016. Of these, 79 per cent of boys and 75 per cent of girls survive up until the last grade of primary school. However, literacy rate in Pakistan is declining each year and it’s mandatory for the government to take adequate steps in this regard. Pakistan’s literacy rate during the year of 2017-18 slumped from 60 percent to 58 percent, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan. The report issued by the survey also revealed that the enrollment rate in the educational institutions also declined by three percent, meaning the government failed to provide free and uniform education. According to the Article 25-A of constitution of Pakistan, “The State shall provide Free and Compulsory Education to all children of the age to five to sixteen years”.

In Pakistan, we have one of the lowest rate of women’s participation in the national labor force and the obvious reason for this alarming situation is deprivation from education. In many rural and even urban households, girls’ education is still considered unimportant and they are kept to menial house work. This is precisely the reason why mass awareness campaigns are needed to make parents realize the importance of educating girls.

Sixty percent of Pakistan’s current population consists of youth, and a sizable number among them are girls. Depriving this important section of the population of education will not only have negative repercussions for the domestic future of these girls, but also result in a great loss to the national exchequer by wasting the potential of millions of girls.

The government must take all public and private stakeholders in confidence to address the myriad challenges faced by the education sector and especially that by girls in Pakistan. Only through educational empowerment of girls can we expect to see the country’s fortune change for the better. But we must start to invest in that expectation right now.

 

The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views and policy of The Academia Magazine.

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