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Women Education in Pakistan: Engendered Legacy.

Byline: Maimoona Asad Raza

: Abstract

Knowledge as power1" has historically been a contested arena of engendered hierarchies. The sluggish waters of women education in Pakistan run deep and the formulation and execution of education policies at State level have been a classic case of two steps forward one step back."2 Based on ideas developed during informal interviews with three human rights activists3 this paper explores the question of female inequality in education. It argues that there is no coherence in the aspired educational goals and that State policies lack a clear vision for the future vis-a-vis women education. Both the public and private education systems in Pakistan consist of an array of educational institutions with divergent standards of instruction catering to the needs of different socio-economic groups. This scenario has created varied tiers of pedagogic hierarchies and women are the worst victims.

Keywords: women education education policies educational apartheid


Women rights activists argue: educational achievement and opportunities for women are effected by their lower status in social hierarchy" (Saigol 2011). Historical legacies language of instruction financing nationalist - religious agendas and gender role stereotypes embedded within the curriculum interact to shape the educational environment (Lyon and Edgar 2010). Historians have outlined the role of culture and civilization in fortifying public private boundaries and relegating woman as others' within each tier of a caste system (Greer and Lewis 2002). These findings are especially significant for Pakistan a country having strong geo- historical links with ancient cultures and with a civilization possessing an entrenched caste system. Though Buddhism had risen against this apartheid Brahmanism had almost obliterated it by the time Muslims ventured into the subcontinent and adjusted their outlook to the elements of local culture (Iqbal 1996).

Dynamics of women education in Pakistan therefore must be seen in the backdrop of its complicated conception in an era when the intensifying state of intellectual bankruptcy among Indian Muslims was culminating in the finale of Mughal rule. Poetry a hallmark of intellectual expression had become boldly women centric4 and poetic elegance a defining feature of courtesans so shurfa5 women had to be kept pure'. British colonized India and English replaced Persian as official language (Rahman 1999; 2004). Colonization subverted the socio- economic hierarchy to the detriment of Muslims who now defeated and dispossessed retreated to their private sphere and doubled its walls for the women. Saigol describing the melancholy of those times said: For the disillusioned Indian Muslims women became the repositories of a lost tradition that had to be defended at all costs."

Formal education in India was introduced by the British but even Sir Syed a great proponent of Muslim education viewed female education with scepticism albeit by establishing Aligarh University he had unwittingly set a ball rolling when Aligarh graduates started looking for enlightened homely wives' (Ali 2000). Saigol shedding light on the literature written during that era said: Indian Muslim male writers glorified Muslim women's domestic role on the lines of Colonial Victorian values juxtaposing characters of good and bad women like in the line of Eve versus Mary' phenomenon suggesting that in the same way as Queen Victoria ran England efficiently so Muslim women can run their homes with similar precision."

In a bid to protect their private kingdom of heaven' and after losing the empire in the public sphere Muslims opened zenana schools as a parallel pedagogic system emphasizing the teaching of religion language and domestic sciences (Minnault 1982). British educational system in India remained circumscribed by colonial compulsions. Thus an educational apartheid6 became entrenched as its defining feature with educational institutions reflecting a pedagogic caste system in which children of elite classes studied in English schools totally oblivious of their cohorts in vernacular institutions and madrassas7" (Rahman 2004).

During the British era Muslims who could afford to be educated attended one of the following pedagogic tiers: Government sponsored elite schools for children of Feudal and Tribal lords;

(a) Public Schools for boys on the lines of Eton and Harrow8

(b) Schools for future wives of elite on lines of Finishing schools in Europe9

Prestigious English medium schools for boys and girls run by Christian Missions catering for the upper and upper middle socio economic classes.

Government vernacular schools for middle and lower socio economic class

Muslim NGO (Anjuman) run schools imparting vernacular/religious education

Free indigenous madrassas providing religious education only to male students.

Government colleges for boys and few girl colleges

Few Universities/Professional Colleges with negligible number of Muslim girls

Women Education in Pakistan 1947-1960

In the backdrop of a deep-rooted cultural patriarchy and a history of colonial domination multi-faceted compulsions circumscribed the future of women education in Pakistan. After 1947 education became a provincial subject but State remained involved in its macro planning through control over provincial income.10 An oft- repeated clichACopyright is that Sir Syed while laying the first brick of Aligarh College inadvertently founded the Two Nation Theory'. Basing her argument on this premise Saigol spoke her mind thus: State army and nationalism are gendered identities and Pakistan from day one was geared towards establishing an identity based on difference and till today this schism manifests in the education system."

Muslim movements for women education were launched in areas that eventually did not become parts of Pakistan. [The] British had governed Baluchistan and [the] NWFP by reinforcing tribal structures and Punjab and Sindh by creating a loyal class of landlords overseeing a subservient class of tenants" (Khan 1995). Colonial education was formulated to produce office workers trained to follow orders conveniently assisted by educated housewives. Thus promotion of a domestic role for women evolved as a commonly shared end for both colonists and tribal feudal elite of Pakistan and Colonial education system remained acceptable for policy makers of the fledgling State. Formal education is a powerful tool for controlling the mind-set of people and ethnographic anthropological historical and pedagogical aspects of education are influenced by social policy agendas of the State" (Lyon and Edgar 2010). Pakistan did not inherit a legacy of education.

In 1947 there were only 8413 primary sc hools 2589 secondary schools 02 medical colleges 02 engineering colleges and 02 universities. The number of educational institutions was inadequate and the situation of girls' education was worse than for boys. In 1951 the total literacy rate was 13% while the female literacy rate was only 8% (Zafar 1991). To combat this situation an All Pakistan Education Conference and a National Education Conference were held in 1947 and 1951 respectively. Though due to an influx of refugees enrolment apparently increased during 1947-55; however schoolteachers were untrained classrooms overcrowded and this quantitative expansion was gendered. Thus female participation in education in 1949 was only 4% at the primary and 3% at the secondary level (Khan 1997; Rittalick and Farah 2004; Jalil 1998).

Pakistan movement was initiated by educated middle class Muslims of North Central and Eastern India while feudal and tribal elite of NWFP Baluchistan Punjab and Sind played a negligible role in it however they were the majority among those elected as members of Pakistan's first Constituent Assembly. Most of them had attended elite schools and looked down upon vernacular schools for masses (Khan 1997). This pedagogic apartheid was also engendered thus while their sons were sent to English medium institutions their daughters either remained uneducated studied at home or at local vernacular schools though a few were sent to schools like Queen Mary College Lahore with curriculum based in domestic sciences. In pre independence era Muslims had justified women education as a fundamental Islamic imperative. Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared in 1948: in nation-building women have a most valuable part to play" (Hassan 1981).

Women had pinned great hopes on Pakistan but State's denial of women's socio-economic rights overwhelmed the fledgling women's movement. Thus as they struggled for their socio economic rights educational activism took a back seat (Shaheed Zia Warraich 1998; Wilmer 1996).

Pakistan started its journey with a paucity of girl schools in rural and urban areas. Its first Prime Minister was killed in 1951 leaving behind a dearth of politicians well versed in the core idea" of Pakistan. For the next seven years there was a quick succession of Prime Ministers thus bureaucracy in cohort with army trained in colonial traditions acquired the roll of policymakers. Another factor having long- standing implications was immigration of Deobandi Barelvi Jamaat-e-Islami and Majlis-e-Ahrar clerics who opposed Iqbal's brand of Muslim nationalism. Having fixed notions about education they set up madrassas linked to their own Central Examination Boards11 and their students spread in rural and urban areas as prayer leaders of mosques.

Thus the education system saw no major change until 1958 due to a gendered vision of the State. This apathy was reinforced by dual standards of Post-Colonial era when three Home Economics colleges for girls were set up in Pakistan with American Aid ironically coinciding with rise of the second feminist wave in America. As public disillusionment with political status quo reached its climax the military stepped in to fill the leadership vacuum under General Ayub Khan raising slogans of development. To fulfil its bid for modernity the government formed a National Education Commission in 1959 and its findings became known as Sharif Report (Khan 1997). It juxtaposed concepts of religion nationalism citizenship and patriotism by emphasizing that Pakistan must develop the idea of Pakistani nationhood with emphasis on Islamic values" (Saigol 2011). Consequently education became a centrifuge for nationalism religiosity and control.

It also recommended Home economics education for girls at secondary and college level to prepare them for their role as mothers' while male cadet colleges on the lines of Dehra Dun School of British India were being set up by the military government (Farah and Shera 2007). Ayub Khan was a British trained soldier hailing from a tribal/traditional background and his regime's education policy was an amalgamation of regimented modernity and superficial measures for women development within stereotyped roles. Thus female literacy rate of Pakistan in light of a redefinition in 1961 was only 8.2% (Zaheer 1998).

Women Education 1960-1980

The number of male and female primary schools in 1949 was 7825 and 1586 respectively which rose to 14276 for boys and 3260 for girls by 1960 (PCR 1992). This increase was gendered and not according to the requirements of a rising population. The Second Five Year Plan (1960-65) incorporated recommendations of the Sharif Report and though quantitatively boasting a 96% implementation its curriculum revisions that emphasized ideology and new concepts in scientific/technical subjects failed to give the desired results (Khan 1997). Ayub Khan's government enjoyed American support and passed the women friendly Family Law Ordinance 1961. However its status was challenged when Fatima Jinnah contested against him only to be defeated in a controversial election in 1964. With this backdrop the regime's future policies were an epitome of gendered dichotomies. According to Saigol Despite its rhetoric and slogans of women empowerment Ayub Khan's education policy was an imprint of the

Sharif report based on a public/private sphere divide."

Public unrest on rigged defeat of Fatima Jinnah and an unpopular accord after the 1965 Indo-Pak war led to the downfall of General Ayub Khan who handed over power' to General Yahya in 1968. The Second Military regime inherited the power related compulsions' of its predecessors. It framed the New Education Policy 1970' aiming to open separate girl schools and appoint more female teachers by relaxing rules as women not having equal educational opportunities' could not meet required selection criteria." Reflecting a marshal psyche this education policy also did not strive to change the stereotypical image of women and in fact perpetuated it by providing crutches for them as the weak Other.' Saigol believes: In the backdrop of Indo-Pak wars [the] country's education policies remained geared towards men as protectors of [the] educated but domesticated vulnerable women".

Pakistan was established after a democratic exercise when the majority of Muslims voted for a Muslim state. Realizing its egalitarian underlying character the second military regime held transparent and fair elections in 1970 and a significant feature of this democratic exercise was an overwhelming mobilization of women in the electioneering process. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto rose as champion of the downtrodden raising slogans of equality and promising the upheaval of ancient hierarchies. Fareeha Zafar expressed her opinion thus: Elections of 1970 represented the second phase12 of feminist consciousness in Pakistan. Women hoping to end ancient hierarchies participated in elections rallying to Bhutto's call of equality for all but apparently that did not mean equality for women."

Bhutto's government framed the 1973 Constitution that seemingly abolished discrimination. Education was included in the federal concurrent list empowering the federal government to legislate and administer the key areas of educational planning curriculum development centers of excellence and Islamic education. Federal Ministry of education formulated the policies and provinces carried out their implementation (ISAP 2012). Bhutto's National Education Policy (1972-80) supported free/universal education for all till tenth grade. The Policy endeavored to overcome parental resistance to co-education by appointing female teachers at primary level convert existing primary male teacher training institutes into female facilities and offer adult education classes in sewing nutrition poultry knitting embroidery for rural women to enable them to become better housewives' (Farah and Shera 2007).

Bhutto government established Allama Iqbal Open University opening vistas of education for female students residing in remote villages and tribal areas for girls living in strict purdah and for married women. It has established multi-media/multi-method teaching systems offers courses from literacy to Ph.D. level and is filling the gender gap left by conventional formal system of education to some extent (Baksh 2007). Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had a feudal/rural background. Thus despite professing socialist leanings his education policy though apparently egalitarian favored maintenance of a public/private divide specially in rural areas emphasizing that rural women' should be trained for a domestic future13. Neelam Hussein lamented Educational policies in Pakistan have consistently remained class based hierarchical and lack vision and cohesion."

However a significant outcome of 1970 elections was fading of a mental glass ceiling separating ancient class hierarchies and appearance of a public urge to provide the best possible education for children. Increased urban parental aspirations to cross educational class divide witnessed rise of a novel phenomenon in women education: establishment of female owned and staffed private English medium schools. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in his socialist spree nationalized Christian- Mission owned educational institutions leading to depletion of foreign staff at Convent schools. Urbanization and population explosion resulted in an increased demand for English medium schools for girls in cities. At this juncture some educated women stepped forward to fill this gap. They established private schools affiliated with British Secondary Examination Boards offering Ordinary and Advanced level examinations held under supervision of British Council in Pakistan and created another schism in the education system. Though in view of diverse socio economic realities this period also saw the growth of private schools in middle and lower middle income localities charging lower fees and affiliated with local secondary boards (Lyon and Edgar 2010).

In view of the above analytical appraisal Pakistani children after the mid-seventies have been attending one of the following parallel pedagogic systems;

Private elite English schools offering O/A level exams under British Council

State subsidized Cadet Colleges and Elitist Colleges for boys

Government English schools for middle-class under Secondary Boards.14

Private English schools for middle-class under Secondary Boards

Government vernacular schools under local Secondary Boards.

Private vernacular schools for poor under local Secondary Boards.

Freeindigenousmadrassas imparting religiouseducationwith boarding/lodging.

Women Education in Pakistan; 1980-1990

Pakistan experienced a third military rule under Zia-ul-Haq who riding on the wing's of a reaction to Bhutto's modernist stance used religion as crutches to maintain control. However its policies towards women were an apt reflection of Fatima Mernissi's views on manifestations of the despotic nature of power' (Mernissi 1996). To legitimize his coup Zia initiated his own brand of Islamization committing to build a Women's University in 1978 and sending a questionnaire to government officials in 1980 asking them about the type of education women should receive (Saigol 2003). In view of regime's intention to rewind the clock of women's progress a group of thirty women formed Women Action Forum (WAF) signifying that a nascent women's rights movement was ready to adorn a feminist garb (Zafar 1991). Though education was not on the agenda of women's rights organizations engrossed in fighting for women's legal rights but Naeem Mirza15 of

Aurat Foundation16 justified their socio-legal rights approach: Education is a vital part of Pakistani women's overall rights thus a struggle for political and legal rights of women indirectly contributes towards attainment of equal education opportunities."

Commercialization Talibanization and Education: A Three-Legged Race America backed resistance against Russian expansionism in Afghanistan and Islamic revolution in Iran had its effects on Pakistani women (Haq 2004). As an aftermath 1980's saw a mushroom growth of madrassas in Pakistan. Farhat Hashmi17 a woman Islamic Revivalist set up Alhuda a madrassa for women in Islamabad and its graduates spread all over Pakistan initiating a home-based chain of informal dars18 lectures . Management of some male seminaries also started women sections some appointing their female kin as teachers19 and issuing certificates of various durations. The madrassa curriculums emphasize women's subordinate roles in the family and Women's housework and childcare responsibilities are defined as equivalent to jihad20 and sacrificing their own needs to those of husbands bestows the status of martyrdom on women (Saigol 2011; Bradley and Saigol 2012). Neelum Hussain expressing her concern said:

All interventions for educational development subsequent to Sharif report consistently remained cosmetic and focused on educating the girls to be patriotic religious and skillful homemakers."

Globalization economic and demographic change became added factors in increased demand for girls' schools commercialization of education and mushroom growth of private schools. The after effects of Afghan War saw an influx of foreign NGO's giving incentives to local groups to work for women education. Girls in Pakistan were thus attending four types of private schools.

Women owned O/A Level schools that expanded into expensive school systems

Women owned O/A Level schools charging high fees (single school not a system)

Lower fee English medium schools in middle class areas often headed by men.

NGO administered formal and informal girl schools and adult literacy classes. These school systems have their own curriculum committees and teacher training programs affiliated with British Universities. Teachers get reasonable pays pension benefits and free education for offspring. These schools despite higher fees provide quality education for girls and job opportunities for educated middle class women. Most of their school branches are located in custom made buildings. Apart from these chains there are other single school facilities employing trained teachers and experienced staff offering reasonable pays and free education for children but no old age benefits. These schools operate from hired buildings and do not have adequate sports facilities (Rahman 2004). However education activists are skeptical about schools falling in the third category. These so called English medium schools mostly headed by owners employ untrained female teachers at nominal salaries taking advantage of the fact that teaching is a preferred profession for Pakistani women.

These schools prepare their students for metric exams held under local Secondary Boards. Despite low standards of instruction these neighborhood schools flourish because of a dearth of Government schools for girls in upcoming urban localities. The fourth category consists of informal schools run by international and local NGO's and funded by foreign donor agencies or local philanthropists. They cater for children residing in poor urban slums and remote villages and mostly offer basic literacy classes.

Women Education and Government Policies; 1990 Onwards

First female Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto had studied at elite schools and foreign Universities. She could not do much for women education as she ruled in two short stints. She was followed by Nawaz Sharif also for two short periods. He came from a business background thus for him it was not education but industrial progress that spearheaded the progress of a nation. However since globalization and mass communication had opened vistas of worldwide change Pakistan also could not remain unaffected. Accordingly for the first time stereotypical role of girls was not mentioned in the National Education Policy 1992. It aimed at providing free primary education for girls and gave incentives for enrollment and retention of girls in schools (Bengali 1999). Stress was laid on providing increased facilities for distant education through

Allama Iqbal Open University setting up of vocational and polytechnic institutes at district levels and introducing basic education programs for women in rural areas (Baksh 2007). The provision of well equipped science laboratories for girls' schools and colleges was its salient features and as a paradigm shift the National Education Policy 1992 did not endeavor to prepare girls for a domestic role.

This was a defining turn but it may have been an indirect effect of a woman's premiership the wave of information technology and because Pakistan became a signatory to all post 1990 international commitments against gender discrimination. Pakistan ratified CEDAW on 12 March 1996 committing to end discrimination against women in all forms. As a signatory to The Beijing Declaration 1995 Pakistan agreed to ensure equal access and treatment of women in education". By committing to The World Declaration on Education For All (2000)21 and Dakar Framework for Action (2000) Pakistan pledged to implement integrated strategies for gender equality in education. Pakistan signed The Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals (2000) and MDG 2 calls for commitment to achieve equality in access to primary education for all boys and girls by 2015 (WGEBEP 2010).

A reflection of changing times was the National Education Policy (1998-2010) of the second Sharif government. It professed to provide free/compulsory education for girls launching of informal schools for women in rural areas construction of more schools for girls and building women universities in the country (NEP 1998). Thus Fatima Jinnah Women's University was set up in Rawalpindi in 1998 despite a strong protest from human rights activists who feared that this may further strengthen the private/public divide. Nawaz Sharif was deposed through a military coup by General Musharraf. In view of an existing 1998-2010 education policy his government issued the Education Sector Reform Action Plan (2001- 2004) professing equal opportunities for everyone reduction of the gender gap at all levels' of education improved teacher training facilities curriculum reforms and improved textbooks (Bengali 1999).

In the post 9/11 scenario curriculum reforms achieved a special relevance in Pakistan as it became a stakeholder in War on Terror'.

Teacher Training and Curriculum Reform:

The key problems for girl's schooling in rural areas is a lack of trained female teachers and the fact that the curriculum is mostly unrelated to their day to day life thus girls find schooling uninteresting and their families see no benefit in educating them. Teachers enforce harsh discipline are poorly paid and live in difficult rural conditions leading to absenteeism and requests for transfer to towns. Thus in 1990 the government started a policy of recruiting local teachers and training them for Primary Teacher's Certificate via Mobile Training Units. Such programs were started in all provinces of Pakistan but poor management low interest of education department and lack of teacher monitoring hindered long lasting improvements. Due to a consistent dearth of women in educational management cadres' female education officers were recruited in 1990-2000 however many posts continuously remained vacant.

Women officers are often criticized for inefficiency and dependence on their male subordinates but in reality it reflects an internalization of women's disempowerment" (Shah 1978). However much more important than trained teachers is the curriculum. Unfortunately the syllabi for government schools in Pakistan are prepared under predefined government policies by committees lacking innovation imagination and required knowledge to execute this task. Saigol expressing her concern says Books mostly portrayed girls as helping their mothers and depicted boys as partners of fathers and future participants in public life."

Greater emphasis on higher education is a major obstacle to the development of primary and secondary education in Pakistan. There is a paucity of facilities in most rural schools lack of classrooms textbooks and teaching aids and the level of training of rural teachers is very low. Teachers enforce strict disciplinary measures and curriculum is too academic and unrelated to life. Students find schooling uninteresting and parents take schooling as a negative activity for girls due to opportunity costs. To combat this state of affairs organizations like SDPI22 and some syllabi but there is a dearth of thought provoking and non-gender biased books in Pakistan. There is urgent need for a systematic change in the curriculum to make it more egalitarian ( Dean 2007) Neelam Hussain supporting this argument says Books taught in government schools are gender biased boring and unimaginative and will only produce insensitive/unmotivated citizens.

Thus we at Simorgh are producing gender sensitive interesting syllabi but there is a dearth of governmental support and a dire need for raising public awareness on these issues."

Role of Non-Government Sector: Formal and Informal Education

Agha Khan Rural Support Program has played a significant role for women education in Northern areas and became a precursor of similar programs in other under developed districts of Pakistan. After 1990's the government and foreign donor agencies supported NGO's to reduce the gender gap in education in poor/rural communities. Non-profit organizations were promoted by International development institutions for the provision of education in Pakistan. The premise was that these organizations are more successful than the government and the private sector in the deliverance of education. About half of 45000 registered non-profit organizations provide education. However may be driven by donor agendas and cannot replace the responsibility of the State. Pakistan's current Education Sector Reform Plan emphasizes the role of education provision by NGOs to address the problems caused by the non-affordability of private education.

However research indicates that rather than addressing the needs of the poor NGOs may increase the demand for private sector schools (Bano 2008). Some of the prominent Non-Government Organizations are the Sindh Education Foundation Agha Khan Education Services Idara-e-Taraqi-o-Agahi and SAHE etc. Most of these organizations work for female education and teachers training while Citizen's Foundation and Committee for Advancement of Rural Education (CARE) adopt government schools to ensure improved efficiency. Though NGO's are mostly working in selected districts their initiatives motivate the government to reduce the gender gap. Fareeha Zafar is of the opinion: Traditional subordinate status of girls housework frequent pregnancies of mothers joint family system cultural practices parental preference of sending boys to school and above all poverty are major constraints for women education in Pakistan. SAHE works on BRAC23 model collaborates with

Simorgh Women's Resource Centre IED of the Agha Khan University and Lahore University of Management Sciences for the purpose of improved/ innovative curriculum development and research."

Primary Secondary and Higher Education of Women: 1990 Onwards

Number of girl students remains less than boys from Pre primary level onwards including the students of one room informal schools. The returns to investment on a girl's education are seen to be lower for girls than boys because of their limited opportunities in the Job market and because of the feeling that they will marry out of the family It is obvious that opportunity cost of sending girls to school is high in lower socio economic cadres and thus number of girls studying in government primary middle and high schools is much lower than boys (Sathar and Loyd 1994).

Table 1: Enrolment in Public and Private Schools of Pakistan (2005)

Type of Facility###Boys###Girls







An Analysis of NEC (2005) portrays a reduction in gender gap at higher secondary level. President Musharrafs government despite its non democratic credentials took some concrete steps for higher education. Thus now Pakistan has seven women's universities Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University Quetta; Kinnaird College for Women Lahore; Lahore College for Women University Lahore;

Table 2: Enrolment at Bachelors and Graduate levels in Pakistan

Level of Education###Total###Boys###Girls

BSc (13th Year)###43433###22163###21270

BA (13th Year)###117639###38541###79098

BSc (14th Year)###36280###18051###18229

BA (14th Year)###89414###27493###61921

MA (15th Year Previous)###15336###8252###7084

MSc (15th Year Previous)###11514###6791###4723

MA (16th Year Final)###15196###8306###6890

MSc (16th Year Final)###7797###4870###2927



Research portrays that returns of national endeavors for removing gender disparities in education are higher for females than males with far reaching developmental implications. (Hamdani 1977; Haque 1977; Guisinger Henderson Scully 1984; Shabbir 1994; Nasir 2002). However Pakistan continues to have one of the highest gender disparities in education (GDI) figures in the world (HRCP 2009). Constraints to female education are entrenched in traditional structures of family culture gender roles and power and become more entrenched in areas with feudal and tribal influences. The figures indicate that literacy is higher in urban areas than in rural areas. However the female literacy rate is consistently lower than the male literacy rate in both urban and rural areas and across all provinces and regions of Pakistan. Gender disparity in literacy rates is higher in Khyber Pakthunkwa and Balochistan than in Punjab and Sindh (WGEBEP 2010).

The Gender Parity Index for primary education in 2 052006 was 0.82 for both the gross and net enrolment rates while at secondary level it was only 0.77. Thus a large numbers of girls drop out of school reaching the age of puberty due to socio-cultural constraints mobility security school distance from home and dismal state of latrines clean drinking water electricity and buildings in public sector schools and the situations is even more grim in rural areas (Saigol 2011).

All previous policies24 and Constitutions of 1956 1962 and 1973 had acknowledged women's right to education but it was not an enforceable right. Passage of 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan (2010) became a defining moment for women education in Pakistan. The articles 34 37(a) 37 (b) and 38 (g) of the Eighteenth Amendment brought a change in federal provincial relationship as regards governance of education transferring key areas of education policy planning curriculum standards and Islamic education to provinces. However the incorporation of Article 25 (a) in the Constitution has made education a justifiable right obligating the State to provide free and equivalent education irrespective of gender.25 Unfortunately to date the State in its capacity as the federating head continually exhibits a dichotomy in its intent. Thus enactment of Nizam-e-Adl Bill (2009) led to banning of girls' education by Pakistani Taliban and about 4000 schools with over 40000 girls on their rolls were shut down in that area (Saigol 2011).

Due to deeply entrenched inequality in the education system only 40% Pakistani women over the age of 15 can read and write compared to 70% of men. Although girls' net enrolment rate has improved it is still only 60% at primary level as compared to 72% for boys while it falls further to a dismal 29% at secondary level. Thus more than 8 million girls are out of school. Pakistan in past years experienced the worst monsoon floods in its history affecting 680000 girls and if these girls miss the start of academic year it will further add to their existent educational constraints (GDE 2012). Private educational institutions increased by 69% between 1999-2000 and 2007-08 as compared to mere 8% increase in government institutions. From the point of equality in the society it is a matter of concern. Fareeha Zafar expresses her concern:

Country has one of the highest enrollment rates in private schools and their mushroom growth signifies a failure of government's educational planning."

Mushroom growth' of private schools depicts a three pronged failure. Firstly it reflects the inadequacy of public-sector schools and lack of uniformity in their standards of instruction buildings standard of teaching and facilities and this state sponsored pedagogic diversity is class based and engendered.26 Secondly it portrays the inadequacy of curriculum committees and the irrelevance of the teaching material recommended by them. Thirdly the public has no trust in the validity and impartiality of the examination boards and on the authenticity of the certificates issued by them. It is therefore imperative for the state to develop alternative examination boards on the national level in addition to the boards of intermediate and secondary education on a divisional level in order to standardize their performance. All private schools must subscribe to the examinations conducted by these alternative boards.

There has to be a vibrant mechanism for ensuring equality in education.' Critics argue that allowing the private sector to operate like this is deepening the existing socio-economic inequalities among different ethnic and religious sections and enhancing disparities (Rahman 2004).

Research indicates that mother's education is pivotal in reducing unequal treatment of a girl child in her access to education and for overall national development. Thus if present generation of Pakistani girls are not given their justifiable right of equal educational opportunities leading to their disempowerment the nation will enter into a never ending vicious circle of running behind its tail as this gender based educational disparity will inevitably keep on passing its cumulative ill effects to coming generations of Pakistan ( Sathar et al 1998).


Goals of universal literacy and gender parity in education remain distant targets. Constraints to female education are entrenched in traditional structures of family culture gender roles and power which are more pronounced in areas with feudal and tribal influences. Dearth of girl's schools distance from home insufficient female teaching staff and school equipment lack of female role models opportunity cost of educating girls deficient financing and above all poverty hinder girls' chances of parity in education. Few positive initiatives like training female teachers provision of teaching aids and establishing partnerships with NGO's for better school management and improvement of syllabi were taken by governments. However until today policy statements do not match resources budgets for female education remain low and the cumulative effect of corruption political interference and poor resource management prove detrimental. Every government negates positive

endeavours of its predecessors and announces new policies that are high in rhetoric and low in content and implementation. Attainment of gender parity in education is not a singular end but a comprehensive phenomenon in need of a paradigm shift. This goal is intrinsically linked to an overall attainment of women rights and women development in all sectors of life and an issue of doing the right thing with the right intentions in the right direction and at the right time. Thus there is an urgent need for immediate interventions for improving the present state of women education in Pakistan because any further delay may become beyond repair. Notes

1 Power may vary from hegemony to violence or threat of violence" (Tetrault and Paterson 1996) Hegemonic masculinity perpetuates when men with power legitimize social relationships to generate dominance and it differs from other masculinities in its bid to control not only women but also men" (Donaldson 1993) Military dictatorship is a form of hegemonic masculinity. Pakistan was ruled by dictators for thirty four out of sixty five years.

2 Inspired from title of : Mumtaz Khawar Shaheed Farida (1987) Women of Pakistan: Two Steps Forward One Step back Lahore : Vanguard Books

3 (1) Dr Rubina Sehgal has a PhD in Education and Development from the University of Rochester. She was interviewed at her house in Lahore. (2) Ms Neelum Hussain is the founder director of Simorgh; an NGO working for curriculum development and course books written in view of the child's environmental realities.She was interviewed at Simorgh Lahore. (3) Ms Fareeha Zafar Direstor of SAHE (Society for the Advancement of Education) was interviewed at her office in SAHE Lahore

4 Poetry was the favorite pastime of the idle youth and depicted the state of decadence of the Muslims in the aftermath of the fall of the Mughal Empire. Poets settled personal scores with their rivals by composing Raikhti which was a form of derogatory poetry against one another's female relatives

5 Shurfa at that point in history denoted persons born of noble descent respectable

6 This apartheid even today perpetuates in Pakistan; There are chains of English schools for rich and vernacular schools for others

7 Madrassas are religious schools run by Muslim clergy

8 Atchison Chief's College in Lahore was established to educate the sons of feudal lords and tribal chiefs.

9 Queen Mary College Lahore educated girls from elite families training them as gracious hostesses.

10 ISAP Report (2012) Eighteenth Amendment; Federal and Provincial Roles and Responsibilities in Education; Islamabad Pakistan ( (I-SAP stands for Institute of Social and Policy Sciences)

11 All the major religious Schools of thought in Pakistan have established madrassas linked with their own Central Examination Boards that issue educational certificates and degrees. Details of these Examination boards are as follows (1) Ahle Sunnat (Barelvi) Central Examination Board is named Tanzeem ul Madaras Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat established in 1959 in Karachi (2) The Deobandi madrassas are linked to Wafaaq ul .Madaaris Al Arabia established in 1959 In Multan (3) Ahle Hadith Central board of Examination is called Wafaq ul Madaaris and was established in 1955 in Faisalabad. Jamaat e Islami also has a Central Examination Board is called Rabita ul Madaaris Al Islamia in Lahore established in 1983 (Borchgrevink 2011).

12 The time period in between 1920-1947 was the first phase of feminist consciousnes's of Muslim women living in the Indo -Pakistan sub continent (Ali 2000).

13 When Ayub Khan jailed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto after he launched an agitation against Ayub Khan's government in the late 1960's his wife Nusrat Bhutto led an agitation for his release. Bhutto's comment on his release from jail was: Now I am there to lead the people thus Nusrat will go back to her place in the kitchen.

14 Model Schools in F- Sectors of Islamabad

15 The author also held discussion on this topic with Naeem Mirza the director of Aurat Foundation for this paper.

16 Aurat Foundation is a an NGO working fro the political empowerment and legal rights of women.

17 Farhat Hashmi PhD a former teacher at International Islamic University developed a following among middle/upper class women and started a madrassa. Revivalists profess for revival of practices from the early period of Islam.

18 Dars means lesson and is taken as a synonym for lessons about the religion of Islam

19 Two cleric brothers of the famous Lal masjid and Madrassa Fareedia for men started the Jamia Hafsa whose principal was Umme-Hassan the wife of the elder cleric brother Maulana Abdul Aziz.

20 Jihad means Holy War

21 The World Declaration on Education For All (2000) is also known as the Jomtien Declaration"

22 Sustainable Development Policy Institute

23 Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) set up a large chain of non formal schools for girls. This program has had a significant impact on the state of women education in Bangladesh

24 1. Report of National Educational Conference 1947

2. Report of Second National Educational Conference 1951

3. Report of the National Commision of Education 1959

4. Proposals for New Education Policy 1969

5. New Education Policy 1970

6. Education Policy 1972-78

7. National Education Policy 1979

8. National Education Policy 1992

9. National Education Policy 1998-2010

10. National Education Policy 2009

25 The Constitution of Pakistan (Eighteenth Amendment) ACT NO. X of 2010 (April 19 2010) Printing Corpotation of Pakistan ; Islamambad. Also see SMC Report (2012) Strategic Appraisal of 18TH Amendment; Federal/ Provincial Roles and Impact on Service Delivery; National School of Public Policy Islamabad 26 The state runs expensive cadet colleges and elite schools for boys while public schools for boys in rural areas are inadequate in number and the girls schools in rural areas are deficient in every way and on the lower most wrung of the government priority. References

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