Women’s education in Pakistan is a fundamental right of every female citizen, according to article thirty-seven of the Constitution of Pakistan, but gender discrepancies still exist in the educational sector. According to the 2011 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program, approximately twice as many males as females receive secondary education in Pakistan, and public expenditures on education amount to only 2.7% of the GDP of the country.
Some parts of Pakistan girls are not attending schools due to a number of context-specific issues such as security, distance to school, gender of the teacher, quality and relevance of content and teaching, extreme poverty, unsuitable school schedules, and disenfranchisement of communities and families from educational management. A number of children, especially among girls, remain out of school—missing their basic right to education and opportunities for a better future.
In my recent research paper, I have identified strategies for reaching out to marginalized populations by establishing localized and flexible education services. Providing localized solutions to context-specific issues requires flexibility and innovation beyond what is possible through the centralized public education system in Pakistan.My recommendations include the need for government and non-governmental organizations to complement each other’s efforts by creating meaningful linkages, purposeful partnerships, and a shared vision for reaching each and every child across the country.
Despite various obstacles for girl’s education in Pakistan there are signs of improvement. The demand for girls’ education is increasing with the ratio of female to male primary enrolment rising from 52% in 1991 to 88% in 2013 (World Bank 2015). To Meet this rapidly increasing demand the private sector both proﬁt and non-proﬁt has played a crucial role as, according to Dahal and Nguyen , one third of students go to private school in Pakistan. In geographically isolated, underserved, and conﬂict-affected areas education services are sometimes provided by non-state providers (Bano 2010). For government education departments, the cost of providing education services can become very high in the contexts of dispersed populations, instability, and the need to customize education services to meet particular family priorities/ needs. In such situations the private sector has an advantage.
Models of contextualised education services successfully working in different parts of the world,including Pakistan, provide acceptable, ﬂexible, and feasible educational solutions for children facing access issues linked with factors such as: physical distance,ﬁnancial conditions, type and content of education, social acceptance for the service providers, and so on. These models establish a strong case for creating and sustaining not-for-proﬁt private education services for severely disadvantaged populations through establishing institutional partnerships among the public, private, and civil society sectors. This proposition has implications for public education policy and systems as well as for non-state education providers, with community engagement providing the common thread and necessary support for both. Ensuring community engagement and support has added signiﬁcance for accessing hard-to-reach children, especially girls in ultra-poor, conﬂict affected, and resistant to education communities. Community based/supported schooling services have contextual relevance and local ownership which provide the necessary acceptance as well as protection against resistance to girls’ education or attacks on schools, students, or teachers.
Statistics show that education in Pakistan can be characterized by extensive gender inequalities.Girls/women have to face socio-cultural hurdles to acquire education. International community has developed a consensus through the Millennium Development Goals to eliminate gender inequality from education. The proponents of gender equality argue that it is not only humane and ethical to provide everyone easy access to education without any gender bias, but it is also essential for development and progress of a society that both men and women are educated.They also point towards empirical studies that have confirmed that gender inequality in education has a significant impact on rural poverty in Pakistan, and female literacy is important for poverty alleviation. Feminists like Martha Nussbaum are arguing that there is an immediate need to increase the public expenditures on female education in order to achieve gender equality at all levels.