The policy documents of the Government relating to education are the National Education Policy 1998-2010, the Ten Year Perspective Development Plan and the Education Sector Reforms (information on these is included in the annexes). These documents place particular emphasis on realising Pakistan’s commitments under the Education for All initiative and the Millennium Development Goals. Special emphasis is placed on the education of women and girls.
Some of the main features of the above mentioned documents relating directly or indirectly to girls and women are:
Provision of integrated non-formal education to different age groups where there is no such provision: sensitivity to gender and development approaches for disadvantaged girls and boys, women and men (including child labour).
Non-formal programmess to target nomads, riverine communities and women and children in prison and dar-ul-amans (shelter homes).
Early childhood provision in targeted schools for improved "Katchi11" programs.
Shelterless schools given buildings at elementary level.
Primary schools upgraded to elementary level especially for girls in far-flung areas and under-developed districts.
Incentives to be provided such as free textbooks, school nutrition, scholarships and loans to students in both government and NGO institutions.
At present there are 5.7 million children not receiving early childhood education. Of these left outs, 2.7 million are male and 3.0 million are female. The figures for primary education are 6.3 million left outs with 1.9million boys and 4.5 million girls. Of the total number of primary schools, about 67% are for boys and 33% for girls.
The Ministry of Education therefore has a policy framework to advance gender equality in education. Each target is gender disaggregated in Education Sector Reforms (ESR) and Education For All (EFA) Programs. Diverse programs and strategies have been developed, ranging from compensatory programs such as stipends at middle and secondary levels, free textbooks and school nutrition support to girls’ schools. Initiatives in Public Private Partnerships such as school up-gradation program in the afternoons has resulted in a higher coverage for girls at middle, secondary and higher secondary levels. Of the 6,240 schools upgraded in Punjab and NWFP in 2002-200312, 3,787 or 60.76% are girls’ schools, and 18% are mixed schools. Furthermore at least 50% of all development allocations are now being provided to girls’ schools.
The Ministry of Education has a special desk for Gender in the Education For All (EFA) Wing for facilitating: a) gender sensitization and training b) development of research, survey and data tools/systems to analyze gender issues and ensure the application of pertinent sex-disaggregated data c) gender-responsiveness in planning, d) communication, information -sharing and problem-solving on gender and education issues.
The overall literacy rate in Pakistan has been improving although at a slow pace. In 1951, the literacy rate in Pakistan was 16.41 % - people who could read only. The current estimated literacy rate for 2001 was 49.51%, though the definition of literacy is more stringent now “people who are able to read with understanding and can write a short statement”. Roughly, and on an average, literacy rate in Pakistan has been growing at the rate of 3.2329 % per annum. On the other hand, the total number of illiterates in Pakistan has almost doubled in absolute number. In 1951, there were 22.54 million illiterates in Pakistan. The 1998 census results show the illiterate population to be 48.84 million. (Data from literacy trends and statistics in Pakistan, UNESCO office Islamabad, 2002).
The situation in Pakistan regarding education can be gauged further from data given in tables below. The tables do demonstrate a mostly positive trend and women seem to be catching up with men. However the pace of this change needs to be increased considerably if the Millennium Development and EFA goals are to be met.
Table 10.03 shows that at the primary level, boys schools registered an increase from 2000-2001 to 2003-2004 of 4.1% while the figure for girls’ primary schools was 8.2% and for mixed primary schools 9.4%. This trend is also visible at the middle level. At the high school level the percentage increase for boys’ school was 4.4% compared to 4.1% for girls. However mixed high schools showed a percentage increase of 15.6%.
At the higher education level there has been a 49.3% increase in arts and science colleges for males and 87.69% for females for the period 1989-90 to 2000-2001. The figures for professional colleges for the same period were 289% and 233.3%. In the same period there was a 12% increase in universities for males and no increase in the number of universities for women. However it is worth noting that women can be admitted to all universities while men cannot be admitted to women’s universities.
For period 2000-2001 to 2003-2004 enrollment of boys at the primary, middle and high school level increased by 3.6%, 18.9% and 10%. In the same period enrollment of girls at the primary level increased by 6.4%. However girls enrollment decreased by 6.5% at the middle level and increased on 0.6% at the High School level.
Enrollment at the college university level for the period 1989-90 to 2000-2001 increased 25.3% for males and 124.2% for females. The figures for professional colleges for the same period were 113.3 %for males and 117.1% for females. At the university level these figures were 38.7% and 247.5% respectively.