Frontline Stories

Better Education for Girls in Pakistan

In Pakistan, about two-thirds of female aged 15 or above cannot read and write, and 35% of girls remain out of school. Children, especially girls, are at risk of dropping out of school because of poverty.

Saima, 7, never thought that one day she would be wearing a new school uniform like most of her peers. Her family’s poverty wouldn’t permit it, although a uniform costs only around US$5.

Saima lives in her maternal grandfather’s home, located in Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan. Saima’s mother, Razia, has problems with her ears, a condition that worsened during pregnancy and after the child was born, she became completely deaf. Because of her condition, Razia’s husband divorced her, leaving her with Saima when she was only three months old.

Saima is Razia’s only daughter but due to her family’s limited earning opportunities (Razia works as a home-based tailor earning between US$20 and US$30 per month), she is facing obstacles to continue her education. ''I want my daughter to stay in school so that she will be able to earn better in future,'' says Razia.

Saima currently studies in third grade at a government-run primary school for girls in her village. Inspired by her teacher, Asma, she also wants to be a teacher when she grows up, so that she can contribute to the future prosperity of her village. She is a regular student and always gets the highest marks in her class.

Seeing the need of students like Saima, World Vision has started an education project, currently working in seven villages of Muzaffargarh district to support 19 schools for better education. This project involves mobilisation of communities to increase enrolment of children in school, training of teachers, hiring of substitute teachers to provide assistance to government teachers and improvement of study environments.

The most important aspect of this project is fundraising and collecting resources from local community members to improve education for those living in poverty in their community. They collected money and then submitted it to the Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA), formed at school level. After prioritising the needs, PTSA sets criteria to utilise the money. ''When we collected some money,'' explains Mahreen Akbar, Chairperson of PTSA, ''we decided to buy uniforms for three deserving children and Saima was the most deserving among them.''

Saima’s eyes glow. ''Whenever my fellow classmates showed me their new dresses, especially their uniforms, I wished to have the same,'' she recalls. ''I asked my mother, 'why don’t I have new uniform?'She didn’t reply. Now, I have my new uniform. Thanks to World Vision for showing the right way to the people of our village to help us,'' she adds.

Moreover, World Vision provides educational assistance to schools in the Muzaffargarh district so that every child, especially girls can be educated.

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