Islamabad : Ahead of the International Women’s Day, representatives of the government of Pakistan, Girls’ Education Challenge, a flagship programme of the UK Department for International Development, British High Commission and international NGO Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development held a joint event here on Friday to underscore challenges to girls’ education and find viable approaches to address them.
The participants discussed negative impacts on women and girls during crises, especially due to climate change, fragility, conflict or any other form of emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.
They emphasised the importance of empowering girls through education and life skill development, developing linkages between communities and government stakeholders and for increasing national ownership, and prioritizing women empowerment at the grassroots level.
British High Commission Pakistan Development Director Annabel Gerry opened the event and highlighted priorities for the UK Government to support the cause of girls’ education across the globe and especially in Pakistan and the South Asia region.
“During the UK’s G7 Presidency last year, we called for every girl to have 12 years of quality education. Since 2011, 10 million children in primary school and nearly 6 million in secondary school in Pakistan have benefited from UK support, around half of whom are girls. As I have visited schools and universities across Pakistan, I’ve been impressed by the talented and fearless female students I meet,” she said.
GEC South Asia Regional Education Advisor at UKAID Ian Attfield outlined the GEC approach to ‘Leave No Girl Behind’ and introduced GEC’s learning series on Fragility and Girls’ Education. He said the locally adapted solutions were needed to provide access to basic services, protection and safe learning spaces in crisis situation.
Mr Attfield thanked the GEC partners and participants and expressed gratitude for the role of the relevant federal and provincial departments for successful implementation of the projects.
A member of the project’s external evaluators team said given the scale of out-of-school girls in Pakistan, ACTED and IRC are implementing an integrated education approach, which aimed to simultaneously address physical, quality-related, socio-cultural, community level, and system-level barriers to girls’ access to schooling or any other form of education.
The closing the gap project funded by the UKAID GEC Leave No Girl Behind (LNGB) initiative in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is being implemented to reach out to a total of 5,500 beneficiaries including 4,400 girls, who had never been to school.
Similarly, the TEACH project in Balochistan implemented by IRC is catering to around 29,000 beneficiaries through vocational training, accelerated learning programme and radio lessons.
Highlighting the project’s achievements in Sindh and KP, he said more than 1600 learners from districts Jacobabad and Kashmore had successfully completed the literacy and numeracy course and a total of 309 local teachers and coaches had been trained on interactive and play based teaching techniques.
Also, more than 1100 learners from the Primary Level Accelerated Learning Programme are expected to graduate by the end of the year 2022 and mainstream into post primary education programmes. Shedding light on the increasing interest of the girls for attending learning centres, the evaluator shared that more than 90% of the girls attend learning centres regularly every month and have thus significantly improved their performance.
He said to ensure that girls’ education is prioritized by the communities, more than 2,000 local communities through 215 learning space committees, had been sensitized on girls and women safeguarding, gender equality, and social inclusion (GESI) under GEC programme in KP and Sindh.