LAHORE                -         Expressing concerns over alarmingly high ration of out of school children, especially girls, legislators and social activists have demanded implementation of Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act 2014 in letter and spirit.

Speaking at a consultative workshop on Friday, Chief Executive of Awaz Centre for Development Services Zafarullah Khan said that education was fundamental human right after right to life and food.

According to statistics published by National Education Management Information System, Academy of Educational Planning & Management, only 18.751million children are enrolled in primary schools (class1-5) both in public and private sector of which 45% i.e. 8.280 million are girls. Only 6.445 million children are enrolled in middle schools (class 6-8) of which only 2.8 million are girls. As many as 3.437 million children are enrolled in high schools (class9-10) of which only 1.475 million are girls. The reasons of lack of education for girls are too many ranging from poverty, poor infrastructure of schools, insecurity, extremism, cultural barriers due to menstruation and early age marriages.

Among 22.8 million out of school children in Pakistan, more than half are girls. In Balochistan 70% of girls are out of school, 74% in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 61% in Sindh, 53% in Gilgit Baltistan, 52% in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, 50% in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 40% in Punjab.

According to a study conducted by AwazCDS-Pakistan under its Umang (hope) program for girls right to quality secondary education, poor enrolment, missing facilities in girls’ schools, less number of high and higher secondary schools for girls, poor budgetary allocations and less spending were the major issues. The study also reveals that high schools for girls in southern Punjab are half than the ones in northern Punjab. Masjid Maktab Schools (MMS) are five times greater in southern Punjab than in northern Punjab. The study further reveals that only 2.1 % girls are being enrolled in southern Punjab out of total 7.7% eligible population. On average less than 10% of the yearly budget is being spent as development expenditures.

The legislatures stressed the need for setting up South Punjab Girls Education Support Fund to ensure quality secondary girls education is less developed areas.