Female education—it is a dream that we are far from achieving.
The condition of female education in Pakistan is miserable. We as a nation have failed to provide good quality and equitable education to nearly half of our population. Although conventional views and social taboos have played an integral role in impeding its progress, lack of political will and vision among the people in power, incompetent and insufficient faculty, and poor infrastructure should also be held accountable for the abysmal state of women education.
During the past 67 years, Pakistan has had nine national education policies, five five-year plans, one free and compulsory education act, a constitutional amendment (18th) and dozens of other schemes, seminars, and conferences aimed at improving female education in our country. Unfortunately, its state still remains deplorable.
This is largely due to the lack of political will and commitment. Over the course of our history, not even a single administration has realized the dire need of educating the daughters of our nation. As a result of this, policies have been under-implemented. The noble and ambitious plans that were brought forth by various administrations have simply been attractive policies on paper with little or nothing to do with practical execution. Both the government and society spent decades fostering misplaced priorities and showing criminal negligence towards utilizing the potential of half of the country’s population.
After all of this, the result is before our eyes. Out of the many obstacles female education is facing today, the deplorable state of our schools, particularly in the villages, is playing a pivotal role in further impeding its progress.
The Pakistan Education Statistics Report for years 2012 to 2013 states the following regarding the 63,914 public schools for girls currently in place: 15.3% are without building, 7.1% are kacha schools, 61% lack electricity, 42.4% lack latrines, 44.3 % lack boundary walls, 3.8% are declared dangerous, and 16.1% are in need of major repairs. If we look at all these statistics, the current conditions of schools for women are in a horrifying state.
To make matters worse, apart from the obvious lack of infrastructure, we also have an acute shortage of motivated individuals who are willing to work as teachers in these schools. Majority of the teachers lack dedication towards their job. As a result of which, the quality of education being offered is well below the expected standard.
However, the problems don’t just end here, The frequent attacks on schools for women and a recent surge in the killings of teachers by the local terrorist group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in tribal areas has also stunted the progress of women’s education in the country. Because of these terrors, parents, out of fear for the safety of their daughters, are discouraged from sending them to school.
If we look at all of the cited factors as a whole, these conditions simply show the criminal negligence of the state towards women’s education who make up half of the country’s population. However, this is something we can fix if we want to. We must take a step to improve the deplorable conditions of these schools. The conventional mindset of our society may be something that will take decades to battle, but the lack of infrastructure for schools is something that can be addressed and improved immediately if we put our minds to it. It is our duty, our responsibility to ensure the safety of female institutions and provide them with the facilities they truly need to grow. Only this way can change be realized.
Written by: Emaan Mujahid