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Pakistani children from Lahore's slums study at a makeshift school run by an NGO, in Pakistan, Friday March 29, 2019. Human Rights Watch released a report that millions of girls in Pakistan are still out of school, mostly because the government spends less money on education. The international rights group said girls are deprived of an education for multiple reasons, including a shortage of government schools.
K.M. Chaudary/AP
Education

Less Than 5% of Girls in This Pakistani District Attend Middle School


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Access to quality education and achieving gender equality are of two of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (Goal 4 and 5 respectively), and ensuring every girl can access a good education is a vital step in supporting women and girls to lift themselves out of poverty. You can join us and take action to support these issues here.

A new report from the Tribal News Network (TNN) sheds light on the factors that prevent girls in the Khyber District of Pakistan from receiving the same level and quality of education as their male peers.

Just 0.06% of the girls in the Khyber District are enrolled in private middle schools — 35 girls in total — while just 4.6% of girls are enrolled in government-run middle schools, according to TNN.

By comparison, around 18% of boys are enrolled in private middle schools, and around 15% of boys are enrolled in government-run middle schools.

The mother of one girl, Gul Rukh, told TNN that sending all of her children to private schools would be too expensive.

Another girl, Jemima Afridi, said that parents do not invest in their daughters’ education because they generally marry off girls “as quickly as possible,” TNN reported.

Structural issues also play a significant role in limiting girls' education in the country — for example, that most schools in Pakistan are single-sex institutions, according to Borgen Magazine.

Gul Rukh’s father told TNN that she was moved away from a private school because it was considered inappropriate for girls and boys to sit in the same classroom.

Related Stories Sept. 24, 2019 Girls’ Education: 7 Obstacles and How to Overcome Them

Access to education is a widespread problem in Pakistan in general.

Currently, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children, with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5 to 16 not attending school — some 44% of the country's total population in this age group. 

Girls are disproportionately affected by this lack of access to education. Only 13% of girls in Pakistan stay in school beyond the eighth grade, according to a 2018 report from the Human Rights Watch.

Women who received only a primary education earn about half of what men earn, according to the Malala Foundation. Meanwhile, the foundation adds, women who received a secondary education earn about 70% of what men earn. 

Women who receive only a primary education are also more susceptible to forced early marriage, teenage pregnancy, and domestic abuse.