Despite millions being invested in education all year round, numerous still exist in Pakistan who do not believe in women being educated. The majority living in the rural areas feel that there is no point in educating their girls, since at the end all they are responsible for is looking after their households. The question that remains is: Who will change this school of thought?
Girls in Pakistan have to face numerous social issues when deciding to study or pursue a career. One of the more frightening things is those living in rural areas, especially those in the North, don’t send their girls to school claiming that it is prohibited by Islam. This, I personally feel, is a severe misinterpretation on part of those who do not completely understand what Islam teaches us. Consequently, it is these very religiously illiterate people who give Islam a bad name. Whereas the truth is Islam has never forbidden either man or woman from acquiring knowledge, instead it has rather pushed us into getting ourselves educated, much like the first word of Quran: “Read” (Iqra).
Though many tribes now feel a need to educate their girls; however, due to social pressures and the lack of funds they have not been able to fulfill their dreams so far. Those who do bypass societal stigmas and financial downfalls are faced with the eventual problem of the non-existence of an educational institution for their higher studies. Though some do have the option to shift to other cities, but for these tradition bound people it is easier said than done. Despite that a few of the NGOs have established private schools, but either the folks around those parts do not trust NGOs, or the fee is too high for them which poor families simply cannot afford.
According to the UN, as much as 4% of a nation’s GDP should be strictly set aside for educational purpose; however, Pakistan even today is barely sparing a mere 2.2%. I don’t know when we will finally be labelled as a developed nation. A truly shameful feeling it is. Therefore, I feel it is about time our governments decide to finally do something about our rising illiteracy situation. They need to set aside a higher percentage of our GDP, especially for female education. Since women are the building blocks of a society, I personally think their education is as important as that of men.
At present, Pakistan’s total literacy rate is set at 58%, a staggering percentage if you ask. And only 45% of women in Pakistan are educated as compared to the 69% of the male population (2009). Even this percentage has been achieved over years of struggle and after spreading awareness regarding the importance of education. We have been forcefully pushed and funded by the UN and other foreign organisations in an attempt to improve our education system much like Greg Mortenson has very thoroughly explained in his book, “Three Cups of Tea”. Apart from that he has also explained in his book how a majority of girls in these regions are forced into quitting education because of what neighbors and far off acquaintances think of them. It is absolute injustice to women, just because they are dependent creatures does not give men the right to manipulate them in however way they want.
Pakistan’s youth has potential to rise on the international front; therefore, it is more like our duty to educate them, to teach them right and wrong. And it will not be possible to do so until we truly believe in education. Henceforth, in order to ensure development of our nation, we need to believe in quality education, not only of men but of women also.