The Pakistan Education Champions Network and a local NGO called Blue Veins held a press conference today at the Peshawar Press Club. The organisations emphasised that all political fronts must be committed to the problem in order to achieve a just and inclusive educational environment in Pakistan and asked all political parties to prioritise girls’ education and gender parity in the classroom.
During the conference, speakers highlighted the urgency of addressing the situation, citing the Benazir Income Support Program as evidence of an issue demanding immediate attention.
Shockingly, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), a staggering 4.7 million children between the ages of five and sixteen are currently out of school, with 2.9 million of them being girls. The crisis is particularly severe in the merged districts of the province, where 74.4 percent of out-of-school children are girls.
While recognizing the achievements of the KP government’s commitment to education, with 35,000 functioning government schools serving approximately 5.5 million children, the stark reality remains that a significant number of children, particularly girls, remain deprived of education.
According to estimates from the Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department, an additional 15,000 government schools are required to accommodate the 4.7 million out-of-school children in KP.
In light of these challenges, civil society organizations called for an increase in budget allocation and effective spending on Annual Development Budgets, with a specific focus on girls’ education.
Gender-specific allocations are especially crucial in regions such as the merged districts, where the gender disparity in education is most pronounced. By prioritizing girls’ education, KP can provide equal opportunities and harness the immense potential of its future leaders, innovators, and workforce.
Qamar Naseem, Co-Convener of the Pakistan Education Champions Network (PECN), made an impassioned plea for urgent action during the conference. He declared, “The upcoming National General Elections are not just a chance to choose our leaders, but an opportunity to redefine our national priorities.
Let’s commit to creating a Pakistan where every child, regardless of their gender, has an equal opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute to our society.”