CARE, Increasing Access to Education in PakistanAlthough schooling is compulsory in Pakistan for kids aged 5 to 16, it is not as accessible as it could be. Nearly 22.7 million children are unable to access education in Pakistan. Girls are excluded from school at even higher rates than boys. According to Human Rights Watch, 31% of girls are not able to go to primary school compared to 21% of boys.

Barriers to Education

There are several factors that make education inaccessible for children, especially for girls. The first factor is a lack of funding. Education is underfunded in Pakistan. Only 2.8% of its GDP is spent on education, which is underperforming relative to the 4% that the United Nations recommends.

Lack of funding means that there is an unfortunate shortfall of schools and not everyone can attend, decreasing access to education in Pakistan. This issue is especially pertinent in rural areas. In Pakistan’s rural areas, schools are fewer and farther between. This makes it much harder for students to get an education, especially since private schools tend to operate in urban centers.

The second barrier to education in Pakistan is social norms. Some people in Pakistan do not believe that girls should receive an education. Particularly in more conservative communities, female students can face backlash for continuing their education. Girls also tend to be married younger, and thus have to prioritize their new families above their education. This keeps girls from attending school at higher rates relative to boys.

The third obstacle to access to education in Pakistan is instability. Given the relatively unstable nature of the Pakistani government, extremist groups have been able to launch attacks on schools, specifically against girls. This deters girls from attending school since they fear for their lives. It also creates a vicious cycle of instability, where violence hurts economic output, which in turn hurts the government’s ability to fund education.

CARE Foundation: Improving Access to Education

Fortunately, humanitarian organizations are seeking to rectify these barriers to education in Pakistan. One such organization is the CARE Foundation. The Foundation seeks to improve access to education through three key programs.

The first program concentrates on building public-private partnerships. In order to improve the educational system, CARE partners with existing public schools to rebuild infrastructures, improve curriculums and make educational resources more accessible. This program also helps build necessary infrastructure investments and rebuild existing crumbling infrastructure.

Thus far, CARE has adopted 683 government-run schools across Pakistan to improve their efficacy. In adopting schools, the organization has been able to improve its function. Enrollment in CARE’s schools has gone up 400% and a 10% decrease in dropouts. Creating public schools, which are free, is crucial in ensuring students can access education in Pakistan.

The second and third programs focus on building new schools and scholarship programs. CARE is heavily involved in the construction of new schools, where the organization can apply its unique approach to training teachers and administrators. Then, CARE helps teach the government curriculum in order to help students with the existing government tests. CARE has founded and built 33 schools that are now operational and teaching students.

Although enrollment in higher education is rising, only 15% of eligible Pakistanis are enrolled in universities. However, CARE is trying to help resolve this problem through scholarship programs. Picking eligible and high performing students, CARE offers scholarships for students to attend institutes for higher education. Its focus is on students studying medicine, commerce and engineering.

With these efforts and its three key programs, CARE is working to ensure that every student in Pakistan has access to education. While there are many barriers to education in Pakistan to overcome, the government and humanitarian organizations like CARE Foundation are increasing access to education in Pakistan, increasing youth’s opportunities and job prospects.

– Thomas Gill
Photo: Flickr 

education in Pakistan
Pakistan has struggled for many years with the gender inequality of women achieving an education within their country. Pakistan is the sixth most populated country in the world, but with more than 40 percent of women never receiving an education, the nation has one of the lowest literacy rates on the continent.

While women do have the right to access education in Pakistan, there are several barriers that prevent them from doing so. In a patriarchal society, women find it difficult to access education and other opportunities because of the role a male-dominated culture plays in all of their lives.

Lack of Accessibility

One barrier that many women face in Pakistan is lack of accessibility. Many women living in the rural areas of the country are unable to attend school because they cannot afford the cost of transportation — for themselves or their children.

Although women and girls struggle to access the education in Pakistan that they so desperately need, there are many organizations working tirelessly to change these unfortunate circumstances.

The Citizen’s Foundation

One non-profit, The Citizens Foundation (TCF), has fought since 1995 to bring about positive changes in empowering women and making education more accessible to this population. The Citizens Foundation is now one of the most influential organizations in Pakistan when it comes to providing opportunities to the less fortunate.

The organization works to remove barriers that would otherwise prevent women from accessing education. TCF provides schools in rural environments which eliminates the need for transportation to more urban areas where more schools are located.

The Kashf Foundation

Working alongside The Citizens Foundation, The Kashf Foundation’s goal is the same. Established in 1999, the Kashf Foundation was created to help women from low-income areas build their entrepreneurship skills and complete their education.

The goal of this foundation is to help eliminate poverty by empowering women, which in turn provides better opportunities for their families.

The Central Asia Institute

The Central Asia Institute (CAI) is yet another non-profit working with the underprivileged women and children of Pakistan. Over the past twenty years, this organization has changed hundreds of lives by supporting women’s literacy.

With a wide variety of services — such as vocational centers, scholarships and even health centers — CAI is changing the educational system in the most impoverished areas of the country. The group provides services to both boys and girls but recognizes where the biggest change needs to happen — women’s education.

Progress for Education in Pakistan

In the past, achieving an education in Pakistan has been extremely difficult for women. But, like many countries, Pakistan wants to be able to provide its women with the same educational opportunities as its men. Unfortunately, that goal isn’t how situations always work out.

Pakistan has shown admirable effort in support of the education movement — many organizations have come together to redefine the way women receive schooling. Many people are starting to recognize that when women are educated, everyone benefits.

Women become empowered, and in turn, are able to lead happy and more successful lives. Pakistan has made many crucial changes in regard to gender equality and education, and is better as a nation because of it.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Education in Pakistan
Education in Pakistan is provided by the Constitution of Pakistan, which agrees to provide free education to students between the ages of five and 16. In 2010, the eighteenth amendment to the nation’s Constitution stated that education was a fundamental human right guaranteed to every citizen.

Recently, there has been a decline in the quality of education in Pakistan for the following reasons:

  1. Lack of Proper Planning
    Pakistan is currently behind on its goals with the Millennium Development Project and Education For All. Both focus on improving education and breaking down the barriers that make access to education easier. For the past ten years, Pakistan has struggled with financial management and has not been successful meeting those goals.
  1. Social Constraints
    The problem is not centralized to the government alone. Social and cultural norms have gradually made education less of a priority, thus leading to the decline.
  1. Gender Gap
    In Pakistan, the enrollment of girls in school is 45 percent lower than the enrollment of boys. Pakistan’s society values conservatism, including a girl’s modesty, which limits a family’s willingness to send their daughter to school.

The delivery of education in Pakistan has been hindered by economic, political and security obstacles for the last 10 years, leading to an eventual decline in quality education. To combat this, organizations must use a top-down approach to be successful.

Luckily, the following two organizations are and have been working to alleviate this problem.

United We Reach

United We Reach (UWR) is a nonprofit organization that works to expand educational opportunities for children in socioeconomically stressed areas. In Pakistan specifically, it uses advanced technologies to create and distribute fully scripted lesson plans to students.

It is currently working on a project that integrates local Pakistani experiences with world-class education via tablets. In this project, every teacher at a UWR school is given a tablet that includes an inbuilt Learning Enhancement, Analysis and Feedback (LEAF) system, which acts as a teaching assistant. These tablets assess the student’s progress and send individual reports to the teacher so they know exactly which students are struggling and in what areas.

Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

Global Partnership for Education is the only global organization that is entirely dedicated to improving education in developing countries. It works to align policy-making and future planning to strengthen education systems. GPE has been working in Pakistan alongside UNICEF and USAID for the last six years.

Since it was launched in 2012, national spending on education in Pakistan has increased from 2.14 percent of GDP to 2.6 percent. This has created more jobs as more schools begin to open. While education is its primary focus, it also focuses on using education to improve the following areas:

  • Personal experiences of children with disabilities
  • Countries affected by fragility and conflict
  • Development effectiveness in international communities
  • Early childhood care
  • Girls’ education and gender equality
  • Knowledge and good practice exchange
  • Out-of-school children

While external forces will continue to affect education, its quality and its delivery, organizations like these will continue to balance out the process by working toward improved education systems in Pakistan.

– Chylene Babb

Photo: Flickr

Why is Pakistan PoorPakistan is among the poorest nations in the world. However, it is also oxymoronically rich in natural resources: “the country has the second largest salt mine in the world, fifth largest gold mine, seventh largest copper mine, fifth largest coal reserves, seventh largest wheat and rice production capacity…” and the list goes on. But does it really matter when almost 40 percent of the people live in extreme poverty? The Human Development Index ranks Pakistan 147th out of 188 countries for 2016. According to several reports, there are a number of reasons why Pakistan is poor, even though it is rich in resources and has the potential to grow. Why is Pakistan poor? Discussed below are the three leading reasons.


Why is Pakistan Poor?


Corruption and Elitism in the Government
First is the fundamental flaw in Pakistan’s political system. Politics in Pakistan have always been dominated by the elites. These elites comprise politicians, generals and bureaucrats (the ruling oligarchy). Many politicians come from large land-owning families or very rich industrial backgrounds. They share key common interests and together look after each other, neglecting common people’s interests.

This scenario has become cyclical because most people vote according to what these elites deem convenient. This type of political culture may be changing with education and emerging democratic norms in the recent past, but it has affected the country for a long time.

The elites in Pakistan are also involved in corruption. The current Prime Minister stepped down in July 2017. He did so because the Supreme Court ordered his removal on accusations of corruption. Additionally, Transparency International ranks Pakistan as one of the worst countries for corruption.

Why is Pakistan poor? Corruption prevents any real change from occurring.


Lack of Democratic Ideals
Second is the absence of real democracy. Democracy remains an illusion for many due to “the lack of proper, meaningful and non-discriminatory representation for all regions in decision-making.” The absence of democracy and lack of political development in Pakistan are a consequence of direct and indirect military rule.

The military has dominated politics from the early years of the country’s independence because it was the most powerful and organized institution. Coupled with that, the military presented itself as Pakistan’s protector against India, which is considered an existential threat to Pakistan’s survival. One analyst writes, “It is little wonder, then, that Pakistan became a national security state during its early years, subordinating economic and democratic development to military improvement and tilting the balance of power away from civilian rule.”

Why is Pakistan poor? A lack of democracy in the nation prevents citizen-oriented development.


Both Religious and Secular Conflict
Furthermore, empowering Islam over secular ideals in a country which is much more diverse culturally by the military establishment, has not only created a fictitious national unity but stunted even further, the democratic and economic development.

The use of religious proxies against Bengalis dates back to 1971, then in Afghanistan against the Soviets during the 1980s. Additionally, their alleged involvement in Afghanistan for countering India in the past two decades, have brought home only conflict and violence.

In Pakistan’s context, violent conflicts and pervasive poverty are very much interlinked. Unfortunately, extreme poverty motivates the country’s disaffected youth to join forces with terrorist organizations which desire to establish the Sharia rule in Pakistan.

Why is Pakistan poor? Religious and secular violence plague the nation.


Education Crisis
The desperate education crisis is another answer. As of 2015, Pakistan spends only 2.6 percent of total GDP on education, which is the lowest in South Asia. In 1997, it was 3 percent, the highest in the country’s history. As a consequence of this low expenditure overall, more than half of the country’s population is uneducated. And hundreds of thousands of poor children are out of school.

In contrast, the country spends the largest part of its national expenditures on defense. A May 2017 report shows that “Pakistan’s defense expenditure in the next financial year (2017-18) will be around 7 percent higher than it was in the outgoing year to Rs920.2 billion (USD$8.65 billion).” It was Rs841 billion (USD$7.9 billion) for the year 2016-2017.

Why is Pakistan poor? The nation invests more in present conflicts than development towards a better future.

However, there is pleasant news. Poverty in Pakistan has fallen from 54 percent to 39 percent in the past decade—a 15 percent drop. The deaths from terrorist incidents have also declined recently. Today,  47 percent of Pakistani households own a washing machine; in 1991, only 13 percent owned one. Nonetheless, there is more work to be done to improve the lives of people in the context of global development.

Aslam Kakar

Photo: Flickr

Kashmir Family Aid is an organization based out of Portland, Oregon that recognized the influence that secular education in Pakistan could have in combating extremism. The benefit of increased U.S. national security is an added positive outcome. Founder Sam Carpenter assured that the organization’s ultimate goal is fighting poverty through education.

Education in Pakistan is very much bound up in religion. There are over 20,000 madrassas, or religious schools, in Pakistan. This means that 3.5 million children and young adults are given Koranic teachings as their primary source of education, and, while this is a respected and understood aspect of Pakistani culture, it has increased the threat of extremism to the point of government intervention. As reported by the Washington Post, part of the Pakistani government’s 2015 plan for combating terrorism included “registrations and regulation of madrassas,” but it is still approximated that at least 9,000 are unregistered and that two to three percent have ties to student radicalization.

In the politically divided areas of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, a 2005 earthquake left over 70,000 people dead and three million homeless. The earthquake destroyed 8,000 of the region’s 11,000 primary schools. Kashmir Family Aid was founded to help the area recover from such devastation.

The organization provides school supplies to the small village of Sarli Sacha in the foothills of a rural area that is nearly inaccessible in winter. They continually strive to provide money directly to schools, such as one in the Langla Village that cannot provide the $30 to $40 USD monthly salaries to its teachers. Fearing that the corruption of local officials has contributed to the misappropriation of government funds and undermining of education in Pakistan, Carpenter insists on paying school administrators and teachers in cash.

After bringing secular education to about 1,200 children, Kashmir Family Aid retreated their physical presence, fearing potential kidnap or arrest. In a country where 89 percent of people see Americans as an enemy, help was not always interpreted as such by local leaders. They now work primarily out of their Oregon office to raise money to be contributed to funds such as the Helping Hands Welfare Association.

Providing secular education in Pakistan is potentially one of the most streamlined ways of monitoring and preventing extremism. One of Kashmir Family Aid’s biggest supporters in Azad Kashmir was the prime minister himself, showing that the hope for schools that could produce doctors, educators and community leaders instead of Jihadists is not an American interest alone.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr

In 1995, The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) was created by a group of people who believed that education in Pakistan should be a right, not a privilege. For the 20 million children who still do not have education today, that belief could change their lives.

The program began its mission by creating five schools in the slums of Karachi. Now they operate nearly 1,000 schools across poverty-stricken areas of Pakistan.

One of the main goals of The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) is to help women and girls out of poverty by changing their roles in rural communities. Women who are mothers, and have been considered little more, are now being taught to read in communities with TCF schools. In addition, nearly 15,000 new jobs came along with the schools, and almost all of these positions have been filled by women.

TCF hopes for a balanced gender ratio in its students, and it has nearly attained that goal. Today, 45 percent of students are girls–that is 45 percent of the 145,000 students now receiving education in Pakistan.

The Citizen’s Foundation hopes to create stability through education and employment that will benefit Pakistan domestically while reducing the threat of corruption festering in impoverished communities that has threatened national security abroad.

With career counseling, vocational training, alumni development programs and summer camps, TCF is encouraging the well-being of entire communities, not just putting children behind desks. They have even implemented nine water filtration plants and five reverse osmosis plants to bring clean water to the communities where they operate.

The success of TCF has been recognized across the world. In 2011 the organization was awarded the Qatar Foundation’s award for the Annual World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), and in 2013 it won a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, which included $1.25 million of support.

$144 provides one year of education in Pakistan, and The Citizen’s Foundation is determined to continue implementing their curriculum’s in rural, poor areas across the country until that education is a reality for every child.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr

education in pakistan
Proper education is crucial to the development of any country. Countries with excellent education systems like Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden have populations that generally live longer and have less violent conflict and poverty. This is why investment in education is critical for a stable state. While the country has shown improvement over the past decade, education in Pakistan has a long way to go.

  1. According to the most recent data published by UNICEF, the rate of youth literacy in Pakistan is a little over 60%. Meanwhile, the adult literacy rate is closer to 50% within the country.
  2. The number of terrorist attacks on educational institutions within Pakistan has increased in recent years. The Washington Post reports there were 82 attacks from 2000 to 2008, and 642 attacks from 2009 to 2013. The Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), established in 2007, has taken credit for many of these attacks. In 2014, seven gunmen killed over 150 people in a public school in Peshawar. The individuals responsible were found to have ties to the TTP. Through fear, these extremist organizations discourage people from living in Pakistan from receiving an education.
  3. In Pakistan, over half of the adolescents not enrolled in school are female. Young girls face many barriers to education within Pakistan, but none as significant as the threats of violence. In 2012, Malala Yousafzai became the face of Pakistan’s female education problem after she was brutally attacked by a Taliban militant for speaking out against the oppressive regime.
  4. The Malala Fund, co-founded by Malala Yousafzai, is dedicated to helping girls receive an education. The organization helps to rebuild schools and increase female enrollment within vulnerable Pakistani and global communities.
  5. Pakistan’s constitution ensures the right to education for children between the ages of five and 16. However, government expenditure on education accounts for only two percent of the country’s total GDP according to the most recent data. Consequentially, schools are filled with unqualified teachers and crumbling infrastructure.
  6. Families living in poverty often rely on their children to contribute to the household’s income. Unfortunately, this responsibility can impede upon their ability to attend school.
  7. USAID has made a significant impact on education in Pakistan through its aid efforts. In addition to providing scholarships, the government agency has helped to repair over 1,000 schools and train thousands of teachers.

Pakistan continues to struggle with a variety of issues including poverty and national security. The country’s instability has taken a toll on its education system, but with the help of the international community, there is hope for substantial change within the country.

Saroja Koneru


sindh province

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently pledged more than $100 million towards improving education in Pakistan‘s Sindh Province. The funds will go towards the Sindh Reading Program (SRP) which will work to improve reading and mathematics in primary school.

The Sindh Reading Program is a five-year initiative that works under the umbrella of the Sindh Basic Education Project (SBEP). The SRP aims to address critical issues that are affecting reading and mathematics scores in primary school. It will do this through continuous teacher development, improving student assessment, providing supplementary materials and promoting family involvement.

A crucial component of the SRP is its focus on improving teacher performance. The program will provide 25,000 teachers with professional development opportunities in order to improve their instructional competencies in reading and mathematics.

New lesson plans will also be provided to the teachers to increase student engagement. The format of the teachers’ lesson plans will become activity-based, which will result in a positive student-teacher relationship.

USAID’s program manager for Sindh Basic Education, Dr. Randy Hatfield, added to this sentiment when he said, “USAID is striving for quality assurance of teaching and learning practices in schools by creating avenues that empower teachers in the classroom.”

So far, the USAID-funded program has distributed more than 120,000 teaching and reading resources in almost 1,500 schools in the Sindh province. This is in an effort to reach the SRP’s goal of reaching 750,000 students through improved teaching, learning and assessment testing in grades K-5.

The program also hopes to enroll 100,000 out-of-school children, of which there are more than four million in Sindh province. The goal is for these children to reenter school, and have a greater likelihood of escaping poverty. The program also aims to enroll the parents of these children in literacy programs.

The SRP works under USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Project. The SBEP is similar to the SRP in its goals but differs in scope. Instead of focusing only on improving reading and mathematics, SBEP aims to improve Sindh’s education as a whole.

SBEP’s main objective is to increase student enrollment. It achieves this by creating school environments that are conducive to learning and renovating or constructing schools that were harmed by the 2010 floods.

USAID’s SBEP also has a goal of increasing girls’ enrollment and improving the nutrition of the students.

To date, the USAID-funded SBEP has achieved the construction of 26 new schools, the financing of seven schools, 1000 new girls enrolled in primary classes and a survey of student nutrition. Dr. Hatfield praised the program’s success when he said “We welcome and appreciate these strategic interventions by US Government, which are facilitating fulfillment…for children between the ages of five and 16 in Pakistan.”

Through its Sindh Reading Program, the Sindh Basic Education Project hopes to lower the 10 percent illiteracy rate in its province. Considering the statistically proven relationship between poverty and illiteracy, SBEP hopes to increase literacy to lower poverty.

Andrew Wildes

Sources: Chemonics, Daily Times, Language and Literacy for All, Sbep, USAID
Picture: Google Images

Throughout rural Pakistan, many teachers don’t have access to quality educational training for a variety of reasons, including cost, distance and family commitments.

Online distance learning could easily fill-in these educational gaps, but limited Internet coverage has proven to be a stumbling block for educators and students alike.

Developments in Literacy (DIL), a nonprofit founded by Pakistani-Americans in order to bring quality education to disadvantaged children in underdeveloped regions, has created a revolutionary solution to end this problem.

Funded by USAID, DIL created a mobile distance learning program known as mLearning. The parameters of the program were straightforward. Teachers were each given a smartphone with video lessons loaded onto them, giving teachers unlimited access to the material.

Once a month, teachers would meet at one of the 23 WiFi hubs DIL established throughout the nations to download more training videos. The 8- to 10-minute videos cover a variety of techniques to engage and inspire students to love learning, especially math and English.

Although the program’s focus is on bettering the understanding of school subjects and the teaching ability of rural educators, the end-game is to inspire children to stay in school. The goal is to have smartphones affect education gaps in rural Pakistan.


The average number of years that Pakistani children stay in school is only eight years, with most dropping out before age 16. This low level of academic participation has capped the Pakistani literacy rate at 57 percent, with only 45 percent literacy for women.

Because of this, mLearning is aimed at improving the education and opportunities of poor children and at-risk rural girls through better teacher training and learning resources.

During the course of the initial mLearning program, 200 teachers were given smartphones and completed the program from January 2013 to November 2014. Currently, more than 5,000 children benefit from being taught by teachers who have participated in mLearning.

Since the end of mLearning, the educational aid videos have been shared with 40 schools not affiliated with DIL, and countless teachers have shared the videos personally from their smartphones.

That’s the real brilliance behind mLearning using smartphones as its method of delivery. Since DIL owns the majority of the content, teachers are able to share the videos freely.

mLearning’s results thus far have been impressive. Across the board, teachers reported a 30 percent increase in their English skills and a 40 percent increase in their comprehension of mathematics. As the mLearning videos continue to be spread around, DIL is looking to expand the program.

Claire Colby

Sources: USAID, World Factbook
Photo: USAID
Photo: The Hindu.Com

As of 2015, there have been approximately 700,000 internally displaced persons in the volatile North Waziristan region of Pakistan as a consequence of Taliban insurgency. Of these 700,000, around 300,000 are children of a school-going age range. For these children, a stable education remains a dream.

In late 2009, militant threats in the northwestern tribal areas of North Waziristan escalated dramatically. After various military offensives against militants in the surrounding regions of South Waziristan and Swat, the Pakistani army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in January 2014. The military has since been conducting an extensive yet lengthy military operation against the Taliban militants in North Waziristan.

The increasingly dangerous circumstances in the Taliban stronghold has led to a mass exodus of the region’s residents. This military intervention, despite its exigent need, has created significant issues for the displaced people as well as the Pakistani government. The already financially-crippled Pakistani government is thus faced with the immense challenge of providing relief for the refugees.

The refugees from Northern Waziristan add to the almost 1 million refugees who have been displaced during the war on terrorism in the country. The cost of providing basic healthcare and resources to the refugees has been allotted $1 million from the Pakistani government, with substantial bolstering from the United States and China.

Despite the funding, the conditions in the refugee camps are less than satisfactory. As the provision of shelter and food becomes an issue, the educational needs of refugee children have taken a backseat. Temporary schools established for refugee children are in abysmal conditions and are impossibly short-staffed. Many parents are told to enroll their children in far-off government schools. However, many government-run schools are being used as temporary shelters, and not as schools.

According to UNHCR, of the 300,000 children in refugee camps, only 5% are enrolled in schools, whether public, private or NGO-run. Many students old enough to work are choosing menial jobs over continuing their education so as to financially support their families.

Prior to the refugee crisis, the literacy rates in the Northern Waziristan district were only 16% overall and a deplorable 1.67% for girls. The increased presence of fundamentalists in the region who target schools—and, specifically, female education—has adversely affected the state of education in the region.

Unfortunately, for the families returning home this summer, the conditions for education have not improved. Many of the schools have been destroyed through the course of the clashes between the army and the Taliban; others are still occupied by the army as temporary bases. As schools across the country reopen in September, students in North Waziristan continue to face an uncertain, unstable future.

The government has so far failed to come up with a successful and effective plan for the rehabilitation of these students. Recently, the higher education commission announced a stipend of Rs. 2,000 for every student enrolled in post-secondary education; however, no such plan has been revealed for the elementary, middle or high school students.

The director of education for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)—the education authority for North Waziristan—has suggested that UNICEF aid be used to establish schools in tents for IDPs who continue to reside in the camps. Additionally, the director has recommended a second shift for schools in neighboring areas, like Bannu and Lakki Marwat, specifically for IDPs. The feasibility and potential for success of both these measures have been met with criticism and apprehension from many nonprofit agencies, as well as the refugees themselves.

As the government deadline for the complete return of North Waziristan IDPs to their homes—set for January 2016—fast approaches, it is imperative that the educational authorities within the government focus on the rehabilitation of these students. The Pakistani government, with assistance from its aides, needs to make education in the region a priority in its budget. The goal of the provincial government should not be pre-2009, but to bring the region to a literacy rate at least on par with the rest of the country, especially for girls. An effective strategy and delegation of resources to educate the children of North Waziristan are crucial to the long-term stability of the region.

– Atifah Safi

Sources: UNHCR, FATA Disaster Management Authority, Aljazeera, Aljazeera, Dawn, Pakistan Today
Photo: Flickr