Education is the building block of a developed and prosperous society. Unfortunately in Pakistan, more than 22.6 million children are out of school while the education system is in shambles. Successive governments have failed to give importance to education.
The government has launched the Ehsaas Education Stipends programme so that deserving families can send their children, both boys and girls, to school and receive an education. Under the scheme, these families will receive quarterly payments if they can ensure 70 percent attendance for their child.
The prime minister said the girls are being given higher stipends as they were forced out of school more than boys. He said an educated woman was a greater benefit to society because she raises a household and has a greater societal impact. However, the patriarchal authority greatly affects women and several issues including ease of access contribute to the lack of education.
Pakistan is one of the lowest-performing countries in South Asia in terms of education. More than 45 percent of boys and 56 percent of girls do not go to school. Although both are denied the right to an education, girls are disproportionately affected. The struggle for gender equality has made it extremely difficult for young girls to receive an education.
The new initiative would certainly incentivize and encourage parents to send their children to school. However, more efforts may be required such as access to education and improving the condition of schools in disadvantaged areas. The government recently launched the single national curriculum to improve the quality of education but many communities still face more barriers regarding education such as high fees and schools supplies.
The importance of education particularly for girls cannot be more emphasized. It is the characteristic of a developed society and also stimulates economic growth. Women make up about 39 percent of the labour force but their earnings are half of men. The number of girls completing their education is also disproportionate to boys while the dropout rate, mostly due to early marriages, is must higher. It is imperative that education should be our highest priority so that we can become a developed society.