Enhancing Girls' Participation in Schools in Pakistan | Sanitation

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This case study focuses on Oxfam’s education programme in Pakistan which aims to improve the Government policy environment, budget allocations and expenditure at national, provincial and district levels on education to ensure greater access and better quality of education for girls. Along with donors and implementing partners, Oxfam is taking an integrated approach to programming to tackle the range of issues that contribute to low literacy rates and low attendance and retention of girls in education. Some of the activities being implemented include empowering communities to actively participate in supporting the improvement of health and hygiene in schools, and encouraging more girls to enrol and stay on in school. This work includes providing safe drinking water, separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys, promoting key messages about good hygiene habits, as well as enabling children to be agents of transformational change in their families and in their wider communities. This case study is part of a series designed to illustrate how Oxfam GB has been working with partner organisations, schools and communities to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene into education programmes to tackle some of the biggest obstacles that prevent children from going to school.
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   1 Gender, WASH and education case study: Enhancing girls’ participation in schools in Pakistan     2 Introduction In 2010, Pakistan was ranked 125 out of 169 countries in the United Nations (UN) Human Development Index, and falls under the categ ory of ‘medium’ human development. 1  It has a population of 176 million, around 48 per cent of whom are women. It is estimated that half of the population is illiterate, including two out of three women. Poverty is widespread, with one in four people living below the poverty line, unable to meet their basic needs. Half of them live in the Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province. It is estimated that 6.8 million children are out of school  –  the second largest out-of-school population in the world after Nigeria according to Global Monitoring Report 2010  –  accounting for 7 per cent of global absentees. 2   In recent years, the country’s literacy rate has improved at a moderate pace. According to data from the 2007  – 08 Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) Survey, the overall literacy rate (those aged ten years old and above) was 56 per cent, and rose by 1 per cent to 57 per cent in 2008-2009. Figure 1: Literacy rates in Pakistan between 2006 and 2009 3   Pakistan Literacy Rate Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) Primary (age 5-9) Net Enrolment Rate (NER) Primary (age 5-9) 10 Years & Above 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 Male 67 69 69 99 97 99 60 59 61 Female 42 44 45 81 83 83 51 52 54 Both 55 56 57 91 91 91 56 55 57 Rural 45 49 48 84 83 85 52 51 53 Urban 72 71 74 106 106 106 66 66 68 Gender Parity Index (GPI) 0.63 0.64 0.65 0.82 0.86 0.83 0.85 0.88 0.87 Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2009-2010  According to the latest PSLM Survey for 2008  – 2009, the overall literacy rate is 57 per cent (69 per cent for male and 45 per cent for female) compared to 56 per cent (69 per cent for male and 44 per cent for female) for the period 2007  – 08. The data shows that levels of literacy remain higher in urban areas (74 per cent) than in rural areas (48 per cent), and are more prevalent for men (69 per cent) compared to women (45 per cent). However, it is evident from the data that overall female literacy is increasing over time, but progress is uneven across the provinces. There are also significant differences in literacy rates and gross enrolment rates within provinces. In the Punjab, for instance, southern districts have much lower literacy rates than northern districts. These districts are very remote and underprivileged and prone to natural disasters such as floods. These areas not only have lower literacy rates, but the incidence of violence against women is also very high. Compared with other South Asian countries, Pakistan has the lowest public expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). 4  Education spending amounted to 2.5 per cent of GDP in 2006  – 07 and 2.47 per cent in 2007  – 08, and is estimated at 2.1 per cent for 2008  – 09 and 2.05 for year 2009-2010. 5  Pakistan spends even less public money on education than Bangladesh and Nepal.   3  Apart from poor access there is also a serious problem with the quality of education imparted to students not only with respect to curricula, but also regarding the quality of teaching. Other issues, such as teacher absenteeism, cultural and social barriers (that prevent girls from getting an education), dysfunctional school management committees, lack of proper infrastructure and the gap between communities, schools and local government educational departments for active participation of all stakeholders, have all further exacerbated the situation in the education sector. Gender and education The adult literacy rate for women (44 per cent) in Pakistan is among the lowest in the world, and lags far behind that for men (69 per cent). G irls’ educational attainment is also far below that of boys. 6  It is unfortunate that the education of women is not considered as a vehicle for social change, or a process by which they can be empowered to question and become agents of change. 7  There is also a gender gap in overall school attendance, at 46 per cent for girls and 71 per cent for boys (2007  – 08). Enrolment in primary education is another area marked by wide gender disparity. In 2007  – 08, the gross enrolment rate for primary children (aged five to nine) was 97 per cent for boys and 83 per cent for girls. Net enrolment rates for the same age group were 59 per cent for boys and 52 per cent for girls. 8   Literacy rates, particularly for girls, are a critical indicator of social and economic development. Studies have shown that there is a clear link between lack of economic opportunities and illiteracy, poverty and violence against women. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) The MDGs, agreed by world leaders at the UN General Assembly in 2000, set out eight targets to reduce poverty and tackle the biggest social development problems around the world by 2015. 9  The second MDG goal is to ‘ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls ali ke, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling’. Pakistan made a commitment to eliminating gender disparity within education at primary and secondary levels by 2015. Although some small improvements have been made, much more needs to be do ne to bring about gender parity at every tier of the country’s education system. A slight improvement in the gender parity index (GPI) 10 was witnessed during 2007  – 08, rising from 0.63 in 2006  – 07 to 0.64. The GPI for middle (secondary) schools during 2007  – 08 remained at 0.77, whereas it was 0.75 for secondary education during the same period. 11  Figure 3 highlights the prevailing gender disparity at various levels of education between 2000 and 2008.   Source: Ministry of Education Figure 2: Public Expenditure (as %) of GDP   4   Figure 4: Government targets for provision of WASH facilities In 2009, Pakistan’s Ministry of Education introduced the following standards for water and sanitation facilities in schools:   Drinking water    Water supply systems should be provided in each school to ensure sufficient availability of improved drinking water all year round, with a tamper-free storage tank where water supply is intermittent or likely to be disrupted. The storage capacity must be five litres per child per day.  Sanitation and hygiene There should be at least one latrine for every 50 children. This standard can be revised and reviewed where school enrolment is under 100. There should be separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys. A hand washing facility should be provided near the latrines. There should be at least one tap for hand washing for every 50 children. Soap containers should be fixed at a suitable point on or near the hand washing facility.   Latrines must be located 30 metres away and downhill from a ground water source/facility to reduce the chances of contamination, with proper arrangements for drainage water. A container must be provided for solid waste management. The Ministry of Education has also highlighted some key factors that should be considered in order to make the facilities more accessible to children, as follows: Strength needed to use the pump or to open taps or open the door (weight of door);  Access to facilities must be open and clear, while ensuring enough privacy (particularly for girls) so that children feel comfortable when using the toilets or water points; Height of door knobs/locks should be appropriate for users. Figure 3: Reasons for boys and girls dropping out of primary school Reasons for dropping out of primary school Boys Girls Urban (%) Rural (%) Total Urban (%) Rural (%) Total Parents did not allow 3 3 3 20 19 19 Too expensive 33 18 23 34 17 22 Too far 0 1 1 3 6 5 Had to help parents with work 8 8 1 3 6 5 Had to help with domestic chores 3 5 8 1 2 1 Child not willing to attend 41 45 44 21 27 25 Source: Pakistan Integrated Household Survey (PIHS) 1998/99 In most cases, poverty is the main reason why families do not send their children to school  –  they simply cannot afford to. Figure 3 shows some of the reasons why children (boys and girls in both rural and urban areas) do not attend or drop out of schools. It is interesting to note that for boys in rural and urban areas, only 3 per cent cited their parents not allowing them to attend school, whereas for girls, this figure was 20 and 19 per cent respectively in urban and rural areas. It is clear that traditional attitudes about gender and girls’ education prevail in both rural and urban areas. The learning environment is a big contributing factor in motivating or de-motivating children to attend school. Another key reason  –   ‘ the child is not willing to attend’    –  is associated with corporal punishment in schools, the lack of adequate facilities and absenteeism of teachers. However, the data presented here is ten years old, and there is no recent data available.  Access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities  Almost 50 million, of Pakistan’s 176 million people, lack access to clean drinking water (2008). 12  Only 42 per cent of people have access to sanitation facilities (latrines)  –  65 per cent in urban areas and 30 per cent in rural areas. 13  Around 30 per cent of people in urban areas live in katchi abadis (squatter settlements) and slums, with totally inadequate sanitation and sewage disposal facilities. Many people live near open sewers or drains, causing serious public health problems. From 2000 to 2003, diarrhoeal diseases accounted for 14 per cent of all deaths in children under five. 14  Every day, 670,000 children miss school due to illness. 15  One in three schools has no safe drinking water, and half of all schools lack proper sanitation facilities. 16  In addition, many people do not have a clear understanding of the link between poor hygiene and the spread of disease. Overall, water, sanitation and hygiene-related illnesses are estimated to cost Pakistan’s economy around Rs112bn per year. 17  
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