Education Budgeting

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Despite decades worth of advocacy and awareness raising at the highest tiers of leadership, the present enrollment of girls between 5 to 16 years (Grade 1-10) in Pakistan’s public schools stands at 7.73 million while the number of out of school girls lingers at an estimated 8.96 million. Simply put, this means that compared to the number of girls who are currently enrolled, more girls of school-going age in Pakistan are out of school.

The national figure, although not in the least a feat to boast about on its own, provides a cover of sorts to the situation at the provincial level. For instance, in Balochistan, 78% girls of school-going age are out-of-school. This figure stands at 61% in Sindh and 64% in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

While the easiest interpretation of this depressing state of affairs would be to place the burden of blame on parents and communities, a closer examination of the situation reveals a gender bias inherent to the very system that pledges free and quality education for every Pakistani child.

Once again, the national picture is not necessarily representative of the disparity at the provincial level. In the case of Sindh for instance, of the 38,493 same sex primary schools, only 8,478 or 22% are for girls. The situation is not overly plumy in other regions at various educational levels.

These figures make it very difficult to overlook the arrogance with which the system itself disadvantages the female child, making it wholly impossible for hundreds of thousands of girls to begin or continue their educational journey owing to an acute lack of schools dedicated to them.

Perhaps, the first and most immediate step that needs to be taken to finally begin correcting this situation is to make our education budgets gender responsive. This would mean integrating a gender perspective throughout the budgeting process–i.e. planning, drafting, implementation and evaluation.

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