Education is a basic human right, and determined as the most effective socio-economic investment. Pakistan’s support for education has always been poor, with less than 2 percent of GDP allocated to this sector until 2002. The present allocation is around 3 percent, which is still, less than the recommended percent by UNESCO.
Official figures show that literacy rate in Khyber Pukhtoon-Khwa Province (KPK) for both sexes is 35.41%, while for FATA the figures are too low as only 17.42% of people are educated most of whom have got education at the primary level only. Out of this 35.41% figure ratio of male literacy is 51.49% while that of female is 18% only. Similarly, in FATA, the ratio of male literacy is 18.82% and that of female is 3% only, which is equal to none.
The multiple Cluster Indicator Survey (MICS) in FATA shows that 69.3 % of FATA Youth between 15-24 years population is illiterate and only 30.7 % are literate. The percentage of literate 10+ year’s population in FATA is 33.8% male and 7.5% females.
Poverty and backwardness is the direct corollary of lack of education. Similarly, socio-economic agonies and bad governance are the fuel behind radicalism, extremism, fundamentalism, dogmatism and subsequent terrorism as well as exposing our children to poverty and its related implications like involvement in child labor, drugs and drug trafficking, child trafficking and child abuse etc. Easy access to free, qualitative, innovative and affordable education will surely mainstream our children to education. Resultantly; their accumulative energies will be tapped into a recipe of pro-state and not anti-state activities.
The recent intermittent disasters and complex emergencies, in the KPK and FATA, including earthquake, floods, droughts and more recent internal displacements in result of Pakistani security forces armed pursuit and operations against fundamentalist-religious militant insurgency that was challenging the state’s writ has completely tumbled down whatever was left little of the education infrastructure.
The brutality of militants in Malakand division and later on the military operations did not only forced millions of people to leave their home and disrupt their children’s education, it also caused heavy destruction and damage to school facilities in areas of active conflict, More than 1500 schools have been reported damaged and at least a 1000 alone in the Northern districts of KPK including 231 destroyed while 431 partially damaged only in Swat. 248 of these were girls’ schools. The school destruction began a year earlier than the operations as the Taliban, with their psycho-fanatic over drive to wipe the concept of girl education from the page of the country’s history in the name of peace and religion.
It may be unrealistic to rebuild within months what has been developed in decades but a systematic link is to be retained to maintain children to be going to school in fact to increase enrolment to prevent children joining radicals and extremists.
Adding to poverty and owing to conditions the inimical literacy rates and the meager infrastructural and diminutive available human resources of Malakand division, Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North and South Waziristan received tremendous setbacks that will further impact the future of these areas into oblivion and will contribute to indicators which has indirectly effected and restricted other indices to remain at their lowest like physical infrastructure, livelihood opportunities, environment and sanitation etc. Thus, it is of utmost importance to help restructure, rehabilitate and redevelop these areas especially the education and health systems of these areas for their survival and hope of clinging to humanity.
Apart from infrastructure children are in a trauma and elders confused due to the overwhelming impacts of continuous mishaps and concomitant crises. There is an urgency to address the essential needs of education, because even a few days of lost education can lead to decreased retention from one grade to the next. For girls and boys adolescence often marks the end of their education opportunities for poverty and protection related reasons. Considering the conflict affected and the host communities more than 1.5 million children are to be provided education facilities and services to reach the pre-conflict educational status including access and infrastructure.
Considering the conflict affected and the host communities more than 1.5 million children are to be provided education facilities and services to reach the pre-conflict educational status including access and infrastructure.
Additionally, when we talk about children in KPK and FATA, it would be unfair to speak about the Afghan refugees who have been living in camps and host communities for the last four decades. Afghan Refugees have also remained the consequential recipients of turmoil and crisis in the last four decades and Afghan Refugee Children are especially affected by the changing geo-strategic maneuvering of geo-political players’ and stakeholders.
Problems at hand include but not limited to:
1. Negligible education facilities and status.
3. Harsh education conditions.
4. Scarce Access.
5. Diminished enrolment.
6. Children and women were the prime sufferers of all these activities as their movements were bound and restricted by anti-social insurgent elements justified in the name of religion and orthodoxy.
7. Rare educational activities even in times of peace.
8. physical infrastructure of schools,
9. Teacher shortage,
10. Poor teaching and assessment methods,
11. Teacher absenteeism,
12. Unproductive teachers training,
13. High level of corporal punishment,
14. Low level of community participation in schools,
15. Little budgetary allocations all contribute to low enrolment and high drop out rates.
16. Lack of quality health services and facilities including school health systems.
17. Severe and present risk of mines, UXOs, IEDs and ERWs.
18. Continued threat of prolonged conflict and war like situations.
19. Child soldiery.
20. Child Abuse.
21. Child trafficking.
22. Child Labor.
23. Early Child Development.
24. Safe drinking water.
The Constitution of Pakistan states “remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education” to all citizens (Article 37 Constitution of Pakistan).
This program will look to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals MDGs of ‘a world fit for children’, “the Declaration on Education for All” and in compliance and support of “the FATA Sustainable Development Plan 2006-2015”.
More importantly, this program will look to cater the need for development of Child Friendly Schools.
Conflicts leave devastating marks on infrastructures and imprints on minds. Careful and considerate methods must be adopted to urgently cope with the after effects of war. Especially the children and women face trauma and psychological losses alongside the immeasurable and irreparable physical and emotional losses brunt by losing near and dear ones. Continuous and long-term efforts, facilities and services are required to completely revive the affected people from the traumas and setbacks of war.
The only mentionable positive implication of conflicts and emergencies are the opportunity to redevelop infrastructures and social-culture norms in a manner that people felt should be done but could not be achieved prior to the conflict. This opportunity to seriously plan is a blessing in disguise if utilized properly. Especially when we want to plan for our children upon whom our future depends.
PRDS and its partners promote and support access to quality basic education for all. The agency stands in solidarity with the most marginalized populations and works to effect individual, structural, and systematic changes. Afghan Refugees have also remained the consequential recipients of turmoil and crisis in the last four decades and Afghan Refugee Children are especially affected by the changing geo-strategic maneuvering of geo-political players’ and stakeholders.
PRDS Education programming is based on continuous dialogue and reflection for improved performance. Special emphasis is given to working with the social agencies our shared commitment to provide and promoting interventions based on principles of social justice and our respect for human life and dignity.
PRDS has three priorities for its education programming:
1. Access and Equity
2. Quality Education
3. Community Participation
We focus and prefer our education programs by combining provision of nutrients and supplements with education activities that focus on improving the quality of education, girls' access to education, support for teachers, health/hygiene education and services for students, school infrastructure improvement, and increased parental and community involvement in schools. The participants in these expanded school feeding programs are mostly pre-school and primary school students in rural, food insecure regions. School feeding activities in post emergencies and conflicts have a special emphasis on drawing girls to school.
In the short-term, school feeding can encourage children to enroll in school and attend regularly because they receive a meal at school. Through the school meal, children receive essential nutrients, which improve their ability to learn. This meal is also an incentive for parents to send their children to school because they know their children will eat well at school, and that they will not have to use limited family funds and time to prepare a midday meal.
Beneficiaries and participants in PRDS' education projects are school-age children, their parents and other members of the larger community, teachers and administrators, and local grassroots project partners. Education programs focus primarily on primary or pre-primary grades but not limited to and are implemented through both the formal education system and informal learning environments. Informal learning environments provide basic education to groups that have traditionally been excluded from schooling and strengthen parent and community organizations to become a positive force for improving education.
PRDS is constantly evaluating and improving its education programming and recently expanded its school feeding mechanism to be focused more on primary education.
• Promoting girls' education
• Strengthening parental/community involvement in education
• Improving access to education
• Improving the quality of education
• Improving infrastructure and school environments
• Promoting inclusive education
• Promoting adult education and literacy
• Promoting early childhood development
• Promoting health/hygiene/nutrition/sanitation through schools
• Promoting education for peace building
• Promoting vocational training and life skills
• Promoting short-term food security in emergency situations
• Protective education and promotion of protection issues
• Mine risk awareness to children parents and teachers
• child counseling and post trauma child care
• Specific activities that meet these programming goals include:
• Distributing micronutrient supplements to improve students' health
• Providing parents, teachers, communities and children with hygiene and nutrition education
• Improving teachers' skills and directors' school management techniques
• Providing take-home rations to encourage the enrollment and attendance of girls and other marginalized groups
• Initiating information and education campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of issues such as girls' education
• Strengthening Parent Teacher Associations to increase community involvement in education
• Improving school sanitation and infrastructure by repairs and maintenance
These activities provide a more holistic approach to child development and a more comprehensive support for primary education.