Do you think education is important for the development of a nation? Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Give me an educated mother, I shall promise the birth of a civilized nation”. Education has a key role in the development of a country. As about half of the population of world is female, female education is as necessary as male education. We have seen in the history of the world that those nations are in the lines of leading developed nations who have educated their women and men equally. But unfortunately the situation of female education in Pakistan is not as good as it should be. Many organizations are working for its improvement. There are some major obstructions in the way of female education but the situation may be improved if some steps are taken with responsibilities.
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Importance of female education is obvious to everyone. Education of female is necessary for a society in many ways. Firstly educated mothers can educate children in a better way as compared to uneducated woman. She can understand the difficulties coming to students in seeking education. Secondly educated mothers bring up children with more care than uneducated woman. Moreover, Education gives girls and women power to decide about their life and life style. She knows how her right and can raise her voice for her right in the world. Lower female education has a negative impact on economic growth as it lowers the average level of human capital. If we look at the success of European countries, that is only because of their education system. They take education seriously the education of men and women equally. That is the only cause why they are developing so fast. But the situation in Pakistan is totally reversed people understand education necessary for men and not for women.
The siFatuation of female education in Pakistan is not satisfying. According to Pakistan Social and Living Measurement survey 2008-2009, the literacy rate of women was only 45%. The rate was 41.75% in 2004. It means the rate was increased only by 3.25% in the duration of five years. It is very disappointing as compared to any other developing country for example India which has the female education rate of 74%. The ratio of female to male education which is 45 to 69 is not good too. The situation is worse in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan in which female literacy rate is 31% and 23% respectively. The ratio of female to male education in these provinces is 31/69 and 23/62. The situation is alarming in the country especially in the provinces mentioned above. According to Pakistan educational statistics 2006-2007, there are total 64,309 and 46,270 schools for boys and girls respectively. The number of mixed schools is 36,112. While the situation of Khyber pukhtoonkhwa and Balochistan is especially worse. There are only 8,016 girl schools in KPK while the number of girls’ school is 2,898 in Baluchistan. The statistics shows that the situation is highly alarming for the development of Pakistan we should improve the situation otherwise the dream of success of Pakistan will not be fulfilled.
There are some problems occurring in the way of female education in Pakistan. Religious misinterpretation is one of them. Some people consider female education against religion so they do not let their daughters get education. They are afraid that girls will become liberal when they are educated. In some areas of Pakistan extremism (so called Islamic extremists) badly affected female education. Many girls school were destroyed in the current wave of extremism in the country. Girls were not allowed to go to schools and colleges. Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year girl who raised her voice for the education of girls was attacked by the extremists. Lack of knowledge about the importance of female education is another obstruction. People don’t consider education important for woman. They don’t feel woman can take part in social life after getting education. They consider the job of woman limited to home. In some areas culture does not allow woman to seek education. For example, the tribal areas of Pakistan where woman are not allowed even to go out of their home. Society does not allow girls/women to develop their human capabilities by precluding them from acquiring education. Lack of emphasis on the importance of women’s education is one of the cardinal features of gender inequality in Pakistan. Chaudhry, I. & Rahman, S. (2009).
As for as Islam is concerned, it is the most accused religion about gender inequality. Dr. Raheeq Abbasi, secretary general Minhajul Quran International states that this is a sad accusation made upon Islam while knowledge is one of the basic pillars on which the building of Islam is raised. This is a fact that the first revelation upon the holy prophet contained the word ‘read’. There is no disagreement within Islam regarding the seeking of knowledge being binding and obligatory. He states that the there are more than five hundred verses in the Holy Quran which highlights the importance of seeking of knowledge. ( Abbasi, 2009 ). Islam has its clear concept about education. According to the Holy Quran, “Say: ‘Can those who have knowledge and those who do not be alike?’ So only the wise do receive the admonition. [Al-Zumar, 39:9.]”. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) said,” Acquisition of knowledge is binding on all Muslims (both men and women without any discrimination). [Narrated by Ibn Maja in al-Sunan, 1:81 224.]. It is evident from the Holy Quran and Hadiths that there is no gender discrimination in seeking knowledge. Also study of the life of Holy Prophet shows that he made special arrangement for the education of women. But there are some conditions that Muslim women should follow while going out for education. In Islam woman is not allowed to go out without pardah. As stated in the holy Quran. “And direct the believing women that they (too) must keep their eyes lowered and guard their chastity, and must not show off their adornments and beautification except that (part of it) which becomes visible itself”. [Al-Nur, 24:31.]. In another place Allah says, “O Prophet! Say to your wives, your daughters and the women of believers that, (whilst going out,) they should draw their veils as coverings over them. It is more likely that this way they may be recognized (as pious, free women), and may not be hurt (considered by mistake as roving slave girls). And Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever-Merciful. [12 Al-Ahzab, 33:59.].
Many organizations are working for the development of female education in the country. In government sector Federal and Provincial ministries are active to develop female education. Schools are being constructed for girls in the areas where needed. Some schemes are being evolved in girls’ schools to persuade girls to seek education. For example, books are distributed free of cost up to high schools. But this is not fulfilling the need. The announcements are often not brought to action. Education has only 2% in the total budget of the country. Moreover some Non-government organizations are also working. These NGOs are arranging seminars and functions all over the country in order to make people aware about the importance of female education in Pakistan. They are also distributing free textbooks, other general knowledge books, sports equipments and even food for in the school girls in order to persuade girls to schools. There are some difficulties for them to them. Some local religious leaders do not allow them to work in their areas. They think their policy is to make people away from religion. Therefore people are directed not to contribute with them in the cause as they are carrying people away from the religion. Some local organizations are also working for cause Alkhidmat foundation, a local Islamic NGO is working for female education. It gives scholarships to the needy students all over the country.
The situation of female education can be improved if some bold steps are taken. First of all teachers and students should play their role in the cause. This may be done by making people aware about the importance of female education by arranging seminars and function around the country especially in the rural areas. Secondly religious scholars should take part in this cause. As religious misinterpretation is one of the major obstacles in the way. People do not have clear idea of religion about female education. They should tell the clear idea of religion about education especially female education and also the conditions for female to go outside home to seek education. Next, Government should take some steps to improve the situation. Government has to make awareness in people regarding female education. It should construct girls’ schools in the areas where there the number of schools is very low. As many people do not let their girls get education in co-education system. There should be complete separate schools and also female staff for the girls. As Education has only 2% in the annual budget. Government should spend more on education in their annual budgets. The non-government organizations working for female education also have to play their role in the cause by making awareness in such a way that people would not consider it against their religion. Special attention should be given to the areas where the situation is alarming.
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It is obvious from the above discussion that the situation of female education in Pakistan is much lower than the need of the time. Females are not given the right of seeking education. There are many obstructions in the way of female education which include religious misinterpretation, current wave of extremism in the country and lack of knowledge about the importance of female education, many organizations are working for the improvement of situation in government as well as non-government sectors. The situation can be improved if every individual play its role with responsibility. Teachers, students, religious leaders and scholars, government and non government organizations can make it better if they know and fulfill their responsibilities.
Abbasi, DR. Raheeq, (2009). Women Education In Islam. 1st ed. Pakistan: Minhaj Ul Quran International.
Chaudhry, I. & Rahman, S. (2009). “The Impact of Gender Inequality in Education on Rural Poverty in Pakistan: An Empirical Analysis”. European Journal of Economics, Finance and Administrative Sciences, Issue 15, 2009.