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January 5, 2011

Girls’ access to education still a challenge in Pakistan

Top Story

January 5, 2011


Despite implementation of various initiatives, girls’ access to education is still a challenge in Pakistan due to a number of reasons, which include lack of educational institutions, missing basic facilities in schools, high dropout rates, cultural constraints, insufficient budgetary allocations and lack of effective demand for quality education by the society, highlighted by a report launched on Tuesday.
The research report ‘Girls education challenges and way forward’ is the analysis of the education budget and data of the five southern district of the Punjab have been carried out by the Oxfam GB with the technical support of Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAP).
The analysis is mainly aimed at providing evidence based to the Oxfam GB and its partners about the education budget related issues and agenda for effective advocacy to deal with these issues. The analysis of the district education and budgets and statistics underline few critical issues both in budget allocation and expenditures. The report mentioned that in recent years, literacy rate in Pakistan has improved at a moderate pace.
According to Pakistan Social and Living Measurements Survey (PSLM) data for 2007-08, overall literacy rate (10 years and above) is 56 percent (59percent male and 44 percent female). However the Net Enrolment Rate (NER) in 2007-08 is estimated at 55 per cent compared to 56 per cent in 2006, which shows the decrease of one percent in NER is the last one year.
The analysis of provincial data revealed that Punjab is the only province where NER at primary level has decreased one per cent from 62 per cent in 2006-07 to 61 per cent in 2007-08, while other provinces showed either stable or improved NERs.
The report mentioned that the girls’ literacy and enrolment rates are very low in the target districts. Although the data on education facilities informs that the ratio of girls’ schools and female teachers in relation to number of

female students is better than male students in two districts, but this is only due to low enrolment rate of girls, which is a serious challenge.
Furthermore, enrolment of boys and girls from primary level onwards is continuously declining. In Multan district, for example, 74 per cent girls and 65 per cent boys at primary level do not make it to the next level that is middle level.
The report mentioned that the high incidence of missing facilities, especially in girls’ schools, is another challenge faced by the public sector schools of the select districts. In the five districts the most critical link in this regard for both boys and girls is the primary level. Multan, for example, at primary level 20 per cent girls’ schools do not have drinking water facility and 13 per cent girls’ primary schools are without toilet blocks. The trend of reduction in the development budget is termed even more worrisome.
There have been instances wherein the allocated development budget of a district in a given year has been considerably less even than the development expenditures of the previous year. In district Muzaffargarh, the development budget for 2009-10 is 24 per cent less than the total utilised development budget in 2008-09.
To make the matters worse, available development budget remains under-utilised in many cases. In Multan district, the utilisation rate of the development budget was 67 per cent in 2008-09, which accounts for only two per cent of the total utilised education budget of the district during the year.
Another important finding is the high incidence of allocating development budget without gender specification. In Jhang district, in the allocations for 2009-10, the schools for girls and boys each have been allocated three per cent of the total development budget. The remaining 94 per cent budget has been allocated without gender specification, thus making it difficult for the local CSOs to analyse and track the budget along gender lines.




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