With an estimated 22.6 million children (aged 5 to 16) out of school, Pakistan is facing an education crisis. This education concern is disproportionately affecting girls, who make up two-thirds of out-of-school children. With so many girls not able to achieve more than an elementary education in Pakistan, USAID has made it a priority to improve girls’ education in Pakistan.
The challenge of child education in Pakistan stems from a variety of human rights issues, from the Taliban preventing girls from going to school to the practice of child marriage. Although these threats continue to diminish, they are still affecting girls’ education in Pakistan.
Only 54 percent of girls are enrolled in primary school, and this number drops to just 30 percent for secondary school. From there, it is estimated that only one in 10 will complete their secondary schooling, being pulled out of school for financial reasons or to be forced into marriage. These practices are typically concentrated in rural areas, but affect girls throughout Pakistan.
With secondary education difficult to access for many girls because they are subject to arranged marriages or financial pressures, USAID has started a program to focus on girls’ access to secondary education. So far, USAID has created 33 schools covering sixth through eighth grade for girls between 11 and 19. These schools will be set up in rural villages where there are often no existing secondary schools for girls.
USAID is also working to improve other dimensions of Pakistan’s education crisis. USAID has done so by building and repairing more than 1,135 schools since 2011, and by educating more than 660,000 primary-level students through its reading program. USAID has also committed over $70 million to implement its Empower Adolescent Girls strategy in order to help educate more than 200,000 young girls in Pakistan.
In addition to improving students’ access to education, USAID is investing in teachers by repairing and building the 17 Faculty of Education centers in Pakistan as well as by providing more than 3,100 scholarships for aspiring teachers to earn their education. USAID has also trained more than 25,000 teachers and school administrators since 2014.
When a child is educated, their livelihoods improve and they are given the tools necessary to be lifted from poverty. While there are still far too many children out-of-school in Pakistan, USAID is working tirelessly in order to give every child access to a complete education.
– Kelly Hayes
Learn about the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act