As Malala Yousafzai gears up to join Oxford, girl education in Pakistan remains in a sorry state – The numbers are worrisome
On this day, five years ago, a 15-year-old girl was shot by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan in response to her advocacy of education for girls. Today, that girl, Malala Yousafzai, is all set to attend her first lecture at Oxford.
Taking to Twitter, Malala wrote, “5 years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls’ education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford.”
5 years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls' education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford. pic.twitter.com/sXGnpU1KWQ
— Malala (@Malala) October 9, 2017
The year Malala was shot, a UNESCO report said that Pakistan’s attempts at getting destitute girls to school is less than half of India. “Although Pakistan has the second-largest number of out-of-school girls in the world, it has reduced the amount it spends on education to less than 2.3% of GNP. Only 9 low-income and lower-middle-income countries spend a smaller share on education. The barriers to education faced by Pakistani girls like Malala are stark in comparison with the rest of south Asia,” the report added.
According to a PEW Research report, in Pakistan, the education gender gap is wider, with men receiving 4.9 years of schooling, on average, compared with just 2.6 years for women. A UN report also said that Pakistan’s education system is 50 years behind the rest of the world, with over 5.6 million children out of primary school.
Conflict was another aspect affecting education in the country. Between 2009 and 2014, the report said 1,000 or more education-related attacks took place in Pakistan, including the Peshawar massacre that killed 132 school children at Army Public School.
In 2016, Carrie Robinson wrote a piece for the Borgen Project citing the biggest challenges faced in improving education in Pakistan. “Pakistan has some of the worst education conditions in the world and ranks second highest for out-of-school children, most of whom are girls. The country also ranks third in adult illiteracy, with over two-thirds of the illiterate population being female. Uneducated men and women may have a harder time finding work and will almost assuredly earn less than their literate counterparts,” she wrote.
These numbers are staggering and while Malala may consider herself lucky to survive and go to Oxford, education in Pakistan is still a challenge faced by both the government and organizations such as the United Nations.