The Dismal State Of Girls Education In Ex-FATA
Education is a fundamental right of every girl, and it is the duty of the government to make sure that every girl gets an opportunity to educate herself and contribute to the development of society. Unfortunately, in the newly merged districts of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa, previously called Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the government has failed not only to build quality educational institutions but to provide an enabling environment where parents feel encouraged to send their daughters to school.
There is no denying the fact that like other areas of life, militancy had a huge toll on the field of education in ex-FATA. Hundreds of schools, especially those of girls, were demolished by militants a decade ago and girls were banned from going
to school to realise their dreams such as choosing a profession, a life partner and to positively contribute to their respective families and society at large. But enough time has passed and no progress has been made by the government.
People of former FATA had huge expectations that after the merger with Khyber Paskhtnkhwa (KP), the region would get streamlined and funds will be spent on the well-being of the people. They expected that quality education institutions would be built where they could send their children especially girls without any fear.
Over the years, women rights movements have been demanding promotion of women’s education and and end to gender disparity.
Although awareness has been raised among the people by civil society organisations and media, the forces opposed to girls’ education remain strong and wield influence.
FATA was merged with its neighboring province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May 2018 under the twenty-fifth amendment after it received assent from President Mamnoon Hussain. It was an important step by the government of Pakistan to solve the prevailing security issues and bring prosperity to the region. The female literacy rate in ex-FATA is only 7.8 percent, way below the national average.
In 2014, a report was issued by Shaoor Foundation, a non-government organization that works on girls education, which stated that out of the total female population of ex-FATA, 14.7 of girls between ages 3 and 13 had never been enrolled in any
In 2017, the FATA annual education census reported that only 37 percent girls were attending school at the primary level and 5 percent of girls at the secondary level, compared to 49 percent of boys at the primary level and 17 percent of boys at the
On December 17, 2018 Dawn reported that 79 percent girls were quitting primary schools in the tribal districts. This dropout was 77 percent according to a report released by Alif Ailaan in mid-2018.
Every time I visit my home town Bajaur, it breaks my heart seeing so many bright girls not going to school. It’s not that they do not want to go to school, but they have to bury their dreams due to the prevailing circumstances.
What I notice is that parents do not consider a girl’s education as important as a boy’s which have made the futures of so many girls darker. Although poverty is a vital cause in hindering their futures, most of the parents do not invest in their daughters’ education because after all they have to end up marrying someone of their parents’ choice.
We have failed our girls-we have ruined their dreams. It’s time that the government meet its commitments made with the people of ex-FATA and make substantial investment in the social sectors especially in girls’ education to bring them at par with the rest of the country. It’s time the government owns up the girls of the tribal region.