The International Rescue Committee (IRC) issued a statement urging for governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to collaborate to enhance girls’ access to education across Pakistan while commemorating International Education Day 2022.

The emphasis for a joint effort was to focus on provinces such as Balochistan where an extensive lag vis-à-vis education indicators were evident.

‘Balochistan is host to the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the country. An estimated 1.07 million children are out of the school of which 53% are girls,’ shared Zain Ul Abedin, Acting Country Director, International Rescue Committee. He pointed to the alarmingly low enrollment rate at the post-primary levels while stressing the importance of enhancing girls’ participation at all educational levels.

Numerous demand and supply-side barriers continue to limit girls’ access to education, more specifically at the post-primary level of education. On the demand side, these include poverty, early marriages, and regressive social norms that frown upon girls’ education. On the supply side a lack of girls’ secondary and higher secondary schools, missing facilities within schools, and a lack of female and subject specialist teachers are just some of the barriers that continue to limit girls’ access to formal education.

A few important steps that could facilitate girls’ retention in schools, transition to post-primary schools, and potentially improve completion rates include awareness-raising and advocacy to discourage early marriages and dilute biases against girls’ education while scaffolding cost of education.

Ensuring redressal of supply-side barriers by the provision of basic facilities at schools such as clean water, inclusive latrines, electricity, and boundary walls can go a long way to provide a child-friendly and safe learning environment. This is equally important for teachers and students alike particularly women and girls. Commencement of second shifts in existing primary schools, developing alternative learning pathways, up-gradation of existing primary schools, and construction of new girls’ only post-primary schools present short- and long-term solutions.

International Rescue Committee has launched an initiative -Teach and Educate Adolescent Girls with Community Help (TEACH) designed to overcome prominent barriers to education for girls in Balochistan. TEACH aims to raise nationwide awareness about binding constraints that continue to contribute to deprivation of the constitutional right to education for more than 13 million girls across Pakistan.

Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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