Oxfam Pakistan marked the World Education Day on January 24 with the launch of Alif Say Uraan campaign, aimed at establishing the demand for improved enrolment and allocation of resources for the education of girls across Pakistan.
In his keynote address at the launch ceremony, Oxfam Pakistan Country Director Mohammed Qazilbash said Pakistan currently had one of the largest number of out-of-school girls in the world who were part of close to 23 million out-of-school children. This is especially aggravated for girls as they faced considerable barriers to education. Poverty, social norms, insecurity and escalating incidents of armed conflicts and violence has led to a decrease in girls’ enrollment and an increase in gender disparity in education, he said.
Qazilbash added that there was no doubt that education was integral to the development of Pakistan. ”If we are to tackle this crisis where children, especially girls, don’t have access to quality education, we will all have to work together,” he said. Traditionally, the amount allocated for male children’s education was more than the amount allocated for female child’s education, he noted, saying girls were getting only 9 percent of the education and “we need to trace the reasons behind it”.
”Today, on International Day of Education, Oxfam in Pakistan is launching “Alif Say Uraan” to bring together all stakeholders which include students, teachers, government representatives and policy providers so that together, we can work towards a future where every student in Pakistan can go to school and carve out a better future for themselves. It’s time we work towards a Pakistan where every girl has access to quality education,” Qazilbash concluded.
The event also featured a lively performance of “Humain Kitaab chahiye” by school children. A document titled “Dream Reignited” was also played that showcased how Oxfam in Pakistan and Idara -e-Taleem-Aagahi worked together to offer educational stipends to underprivileged girls.
Idara-e-Taleem-Aagahi (ITA) CEO Beala Raza Jamil said girls’ education lay at the heart of ITA’s efforts for gender equality: the higher their enrollment, the lesser their learning gap with boys. She said we needed campaigns like “Alif Say Uraan” to highlight ongoing challenges that keep girls from their fundamental entitlements of learning, access to well-equipped schools equitable financing, lack of transportation, security and a severe shortage of schools at middle and secondary levels.