ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — This country, like many other Middle Eastern countries, is notorious for inequality between men and women — education being one of the most prominent inequalities. When the Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head in 2012, the gender disparity became more apparent than ever. Since then, Malala, other NGOs and the Pakistani government have been working to promote education for girls in Pakistan.
As Malala said, “Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”
Because 5 million primary-aged children are not in school — 3.2 million of whom are girls — Pakistan is ranked second in the world in having the largest number of out-of-school children.
Additionally, about 60 percent of women and girls above the age of 15 are illiterate. Girls are often expected to help support families through domestic work which hinders their ability to attend school.
Funding also greatly impacts these statistics. The government currently only spends 2 percent of its budget on education and Pakistani families do not always have the money to send their children to school.
To help combat monetary issues, the Diya Welfare Organization has provided over 280,000 scholarships to children in rural and urban areas across 700 schools.
Providing education to rural areas is one of the greatest challenges. These challenges, however, have been met forcefully throughout the country.
Alkhidmat is just one of the several nationwide NGOs establishing schools for all primary-aged children. So far, they have created 100 informal schools.
As head of the NGO’s education wing, Mrs. Abida Farheen said, “We think women’s education is equally important. When women become literate, they can build a better nation.”
Building a strong, equal nation is also the goal of other larger organizations such as PCE, CARE, and SOS Villages.
The Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) is a leading organization in promoting not just education for girls in Pakistan but education for all as it is a fundamental human right. The organization mobilizes, advocates and communicates with the government, other NGOs and stakeholders.
The PCE centralizes its work on five aspects: implementing the right to education, financing for education, girls’ education, national integration and educational governance.
PCE is improving all facets of the Pakistani education system. CARE Pakistan, defined by A World at School as “a charitable initiative”, also targets a large Pakistani population.
CARE Pakistan consolidates its progress to help “take over the running of under-funded, failing government schools.” This, intertwined with regional government support, has enabled CARE to establish 257 school with 175,000 students for less than a pound a month.
CARE Pakistan has had enormous success as their students use their knowledge and skills to continue into higher level jobs.
Similarly to CARE Pakistan, SOS Children’s Villages in Pakistan provide, “vocational training or higher education…”
The prominent large-scale organizations help those throughout different regions, yet, there are also smaller organizations working on local stages to effectuate change.
NGO’s such as NAZ, Resource Center, Green Crescent and Al-Ghazali Education Trust have set up formal and informal schools specifically for women and girls in several provinces.
Through establishing schools and promoting quality education, Pakistan hopes that by 2030, all children will be enrolled in quality education programs.
Although the Middle East is often criticized for its unequal gender relations, there are citizens and organizations which have made an unquantifiable impact. Just in 2015, 91 percent of children were in school.
Promoting education for girls in Pakistan amplifies social and human capital, opportunities, freedom and welfare, which will effectually create a more prosperous Pakistan.
– Kristen Guyler