IRC seek girls’ access to secondary education


By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: The International Rescue Committee (IRC) issued a statement urging for governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to collaborate to enhance girls’ access to education across Pakistan while commemorating International Education Day 2022.
The emphasis for a joint effort was to focus on provinces such as Balochistan where an extensive lag vis-à-vis education indicator was evident. ‘Balochistan is host to the highest proportion of out of school children in the country. An estimated 1.07 million children are out of school of which 53% are girls,’ shared Mr. Zain Ul Abedin, Acting Country Director, International Rescue Committee. He pointed to the alarmingly low enrollment rate at the post-primary levels while stressing the importance of enhancing girls’ participation at all educational levels.
Numerous demand and supply-side barriers continue to limit girls’ access to education, more specifically at the post-primary level of education.

On the demand side, these include poverty, early marriages, and regressive social
norms that frown upon girls’ education. On the supply-side a lack of girls’
secondary and higher secondary schools, missing facilities within schools,
and a lack of female and subject specialist teachers are just some of the
barriers that continue to limit girls’ access to formal education.
A few important steps that could facilitate girls’ retention in schools,
transition to post-primary schools and potentially improve completion rates
include awareness raising and advocacy to discourage early marriages and
dilute biases against girls’ education while scaffolding cost of education.
Ensuring redressal of supply-side barriers by the provision of basic
facilities at schools such as cleanwater, inclusive latrines, electricity,
and boundary walls can go a long way to provide a child-friendly and safe
learning environment. This is equally important for teachers and students
alike particularly women and girls. Commencement of second shifts in
existing primary schools, developing alternative learning pathways,
up-gradation of existing primary schools, and construction of new girls’
only post-primary schools present short- and long-term solutions.
International Rescue Committee has launched an initiative -Teach and Educate
Adolescent Girls with Community Help (TEACH) designed to overcome prominent
barriers to education for girls in Balochistan. TEACH aims to raise
nationwide awareness about binding constraints that continue to contribute
deprivation of constitutional right to education for more than 13 million
girls across Pakistan.