Gender inequality limits women’s chances to get education in the developing countries which in the long run results in household poverty.
Stressing the importance of making education accessible to girls, Pakistan Girls’ Education Initiative (PGEI) focal person Muqaddisa Mehreen says “the cost of not investing in girls’ education far exceeds the cost of investing”.
At a briefing on ‘Gender disparities in education’ to the Working Group Gender in Education (WGGE) core group at a local hotel, she said the reduction of gender disparities in secondary education and in labour markets was mutually reinforcing for strengthening gender equality.
According to her, all stakeholders – students, parents, community, media, civil society and the State – needed to work continuously on three pronged frameworks of “rights to education, rights within education and rights through education”. She said access, quality and governance were the greatest challenges being faced by the education system of Pakistan which inextricably linked and needed to be tackled simultaneously.
She suggested that more schools be constructed, number of teachers in remote areas be increased, regional subsidies be given besides community grants and assistance to disadvantaged children. Referring to cost reduction, she suggested the initiation of cash transfer programmes and indirect cost reduction. She also called for ensuring improved sanitation facilities as well as health and nutrition facilities in schools. She also suggested curriculum revision, standardized assessment, teacher training, school libraries, and vocational learning skills facilities for women. She said success stories of Young Champions of Lahore and Faisalabad would be rejuvenated with the support of boy scouts and girl guides. She said that some two million Young Champions would be activated to ensure that each school going age child, particularly a girl, must go to school. The PGEI has also developed provincial working groups and parliamentarians’ caucuses.
Unicef Education Officer (Gender) Sehr Raza said GIS mapping had been launched to be used by policy makers, education managers, researchers, universities, NGOs and the School Education Department (SED) for gender sensitive decisions.
Consequently, gender budgeting and audit sessions for 1,700 education practitioners and managers were held in all 36 districts in Punjab. She said the PGEI had also organised gender sensitization workshops for journalists in Lahore, Sargodha, Multan and for university students at nine divisions in Punjab. Some 325 journalists and 300 mass communication and social sciences students were sensitized to play pro-active role in professional/ academic and in personal domains with respect to gender issues. She said 1,920 elementary schoolteachers (960 male and female each) were sensitized on gender issues through 48 sessions conducted in 16 districts. Besides, she said, gender budgeting and audit sessions for 1,700 education practitioners and managers were held in all districts of Punjab.
She said the Punjab School Education Department interacted with school education departments in three other provinces for information on gender related good practices and identified gaps and failures at policy and implementation level.
In order to implement policy interventions in education with regard to gender equality in flood affected areas, she said, a session was held in Multan with 27 participants from different related departments.
Ms Raza said Unicef used Young Champions’ Strategic Communication Plan from the UNGEI platform for increased enrolment of marginalised and out-of-school children in Lahore and Faisalabad districts through the Jahandad Society for Community Development (JSCD) and Hayat Foundation (HF). The JSCD developed 300 Young Champions and got enrolled 1,432 marginalized children (782 girls and 650 boys) enrolled till June 2011 achieving the target cent per cent. While, the Hayat Foundation developed 85 Young Champions and got enrolled 2,109 marginalized children (1127 girls and 982 boys) enrolled achieving the target cent per cent till June 2011.Dawn.