Speakers at a seminar here have stressed that not only poverty but social, cultural and administrative factors must be also be addressed to improve girls education, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The seminar on "Female Education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" was organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday evening. Dr Ibrar Ahmad, an Advisor at SDPI, chaired the proceedings, said a press release.The seminar was organized to launch an impact assessment study conducted by the SDPI to assess the outcome of a 'Stipend Programme' initiated by government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to increase girls enrollment at secondary school level across the province. Under this programme, stipend money of Rs. 200 was given to each girl between the class six to ten from year 2006 and onward.
Briefing on the findings of impact assessment study, Muhammad Zeshan from the SDPI said that the stipend programme had a significant impact on female education as an increase of seven per cent was observed in girls enrolment in secondary schools.
Citing study results, he said that 93 per cent of families availed the stipend programme where around 35 per cent of girls might have dropped out in absence of the stipend money.
He said though improvement in secondary schools showed a structural change towards female education, yet uneven socio-economic conditions made female education less attractive."Females in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa work in household and non-farm activities. Around 81 per cent girls were indulged in household chores whereas 10 percent were working in non-farm activities resulting in 10 per cent drop-outs," he said.
He added that family size had a negative impact on female schooling where probability of female schooling decreased by 0.7 per cent with an additional family member. He also deliberated on the importance of educated parents and said that if the family was aware of socio-economic benefits of educa- tion then probability of female education was increased by 5.2 per cent.
Based on its finding, he proposed several recommendations for improvement in the program including strengthening of PC-1 process by introducing high power interdepartmental committee, involvement of education economist with scientific budgetary forecasting, introduction of awareness program, reduction of delays in funds transfer and efficient grievance redressal system, developing synergies with other cash transfer programs and constituting a committee on hard areas.
Discussing the findings of study, Dr Aisha Anees Malik from Iqra University Islamabad said that poverty was not the only impediment to girls education but it involved myriad of cultural, administrative and economic factors that hindered girls education. Maria Tahir, Programme Manager, Pakistan Coalition for Education, showed her concerns that despite enormous investments in education sector, unfortunately poorest of the poor was still deprived of the benefits of education and efforts must be done to reach out to those extremely poor people.
During the question answer session, the participants urged on social mobilization and a strong cultural awareness raising campaign, which should be a permanent part of the process. They also called for declaring education emergency in true spirit as done in Nicaragua for promotion of education. Participants were informed that the KPK was establishing an independent monitory cell to inspect students enrollment, teachers presence and educational structures at all levels.