Islamabad - Pakistan made little progress to achieve the goal of gender parity at primary level, says Unesco in a study compiled for International Day of the Girl Child being observed today (October 11).

The new gender report says in Pakistan, between 2006 and 2012, little progress was made in either reducing the number of the poorest children who had never enrolled in school, or in reducing the gender gap of 18 percent between them.

It shows that fewer than half of countries – of which none are in sub-Saharan Africa - have achieved the goal of gender parity in both primary and secondary education, even though all were supposed to achieve it by 2005.

The report shows that though the goal has not been met by all, progress towards gender parity is one of the biggest education success stories since 2000. The number of countries that have achieved the goal of gender parity in both primary and secondary education has risen from 36 to 62 since 2000.

Though 62 million girls are still denied their basic right to education, the number of out-of-school girls has declined by 52 million in the last 15 years. Nonetheless, considerable challenges remain, with gender disparities widening at each cycle of the education system and the poorest girls remaining at stark disadvantage.

The publication “Gender and EFA 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges” provides detailed evidence of how much has been achieved in the past 15 years but also where considerable – some quite intractable – challenges remain. It highlights notable progress in gender parity in primary and secondary education, particularly in South and West Asia, while underscoring the persistent barriers to achieving gender equality in education. The lack of progress in literacy among adult women is especially stark: in 2015 an estimated 481 million women, 15 years and over, lack basic literacy skills, 64% of the total number of those who are illiterate, a percentage virtually unchanged since 2000.

Trend projections for the GPI at both education levels among 145 countries with data show that only 62 countries will have achieved gender parity in enrolment for both primary and secondary education by 2015 and Pakistan is one of them.

While attempting to redress disparities in school access, other forms of inequity may arise from scholarships, stipends or school-fee reduction. It says in Pakistan, some girls eligible for stipends are restricted to government schools while boys are more likely to be enrolled in private schools, which often provide a better quality of education.

The report cites entrenched discriminatory social norms, including early marriages, schools related gender-based violence, child labour and household chores undermine the benefits of girls’ and young women’s improved access to education. The report recommends free education, integration of gender issues into all aspects of policy and planning, a mix of legislative change, advocacy & community mobilisation, tackling school-related gender-based violence and recruitment, training and support of teachers effectively to address gender inequality.