The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

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.

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