About 258 million children and youth are out of school, and there are 132 million girls out of school in the world. Pakistan has an estimated 22.8 million out-of-school children, the second highest in the world, according to UNICEF. A majority of them, about 12.2 million, are girls, who face cultural and social barriers preventing them from seeking formal education, especially in rural areas.
Between 2015 and 2020, the UK helped over 8 million girls across the globe to get a decent education. In May 2022, the Prime Minister’s Girls’ Education Action Plan was launched to fulfill the UK’s global goals for girls’ education.
As of June 25th, 2022, the UK is committing a further £217 million for three major education projects across Commonwealth countries – with around £130 million being committed to support girls’ education in Pakistan. Aptly titled the ‘Girls and Out of School: Action for Learning (GOAL)’ by the UK, the bilateral programme will help girls and vulnerable children get back into the classroom in Pakistan.
It will also reduce barriers and schooling costs for girls, and work with the local authorities to train teachers and improve school management. The GOAL programme of the UK is set to impact around 16.9 million children in Pakistan (including 7.8 million girls) by strengthening the provincial education systems to improve the quality and equity of education, particularly the quality of teaching, and becoming more resilient post-COVID.
The setback of Covid-19 has been huge – this is the third consecutive year of school disruption with 616 million children still affected by partial or full school closures. In Punjab and KPK’s least developed districts, GOAL will directly help around 250,000 marginalized children to enroll into and stay in schools. It will also support an additional 150,000 girls by enabling them to start reading at the age of 10.
According to sources, GOAL is set to introduce changes to make education more inclusive and effective, ensuring children are receiving education as per their learning levels, and enabling all stakeholders to influence others to adopt better education practices.
UK High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr. Christian Turner (CMG) said, “No nation can reach its full potential without 50% of its population… getting girls into school is a key driver of growth. We want to give girls ‘Awaaz’ (voice) and ‘Marzi’ (freedom to choose), and unleash the potential of the next generation”.
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