Less than 5% of girls in a Pakistani district attend middle school

Pakistan is rated as one of the worst countries in the world in terms of access to education.

Image: K.M. Chaudary/AP

Image: K.M. Chaudary/AP

A new report from the Tribal News Network (TNN) sheds light on the factors that prevent girls in the Khyber District of Pakistan from receiving the same level and quality of education as their male peers.

Just 0.06% of the girls in the Khyber District are enrolled in private middle schools — 35 girls in total — while just 4.6% of girls are enrolled in government-run middle schools, according to TNN.

By comparison, around 18% of boys are enrolled in private middle schools, and around 15% of boys are enrolled in government-run middle schools.

The mother of one girl, Gul Rukh, told TNN that sending all of her children to private schools would be too expensive.

Another girl, Jemima Afridi, said that parents do not invest in their daughters’ education because they generally marry off girls “as quickly as possible,” TNN reported.

Structural issues also play a significant role in limiting girls' education in the country — for example, that most schools in Pakistan are single-sex institutions, according to Borgen Magazine.

Gul Rukh’s father told TNN that she was moved away from a private school because it was considered inappropriate for girls and boys to sit in the same classroom.

Access to education is a widespread problem in Pakistan in general.

Currently, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children, with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5 to 16 not attending school — some 44% of the country's total population in this age group.

Girls are disproportionately affected by this lack of access to education. Only 13% of girls in Pakistan stay in school beyond the eighth grade, according to a 2018 report from the Human Rights Watch.

Women who received only a primary education earn about half of what men earn, according to the Malala Foundation. Meanwhile, the foundation adds, women who received a secondary education earn about 70% of what men earn.

Women who receive only a primary education are also more susceptible to forced early marriage, teenage pregnancy, and domestic abuse.