Book Chapter or Conference Paper Title

The status of female education in rural Balochistan

Document Type

Conference Paper

Book Title or Conference Proceedings Title

Impact: Making a difference

Department

Professional Development Centre, Karachi

Abstract

Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan, occupying almost 43% of the country’s land area and is approximately the size of France. It is also the least populated province with only about 5% of the population residing there, 80% of whom are scattered in small villages. These villages have remained largely untouched by the advances of the modern age, and largely ignored by the central authorities. Very few resources have been made available to these rural areas with the unfortunate result that education for all is extremely under-funded, and the most seriously affected by this neglect are the women and the girls. The status of female education in rural Balochistan presents a depressing picture. Although illiteracy in Pakistan as a whole stands at 80% and growing, the literacy rate among rural women in Balochistan is bleaker. It is estimated that less than 2% of rural female in Balochistan are literate. Literate and illiterate traditions assign the women certain responsibilities such as cooking food, cleaning the house, child-bearing and rearing, and all other domestic support needed by her husband and other family members. The benefits of education for girls in rural Balochistan have only recently being recognized. The Mobile Female Teacher Training Unit (MFTTU) is a project that was developed out of the realization that girls and women in rural areas deserve an education and that their role in rural development depends on their larger participation in the process. Cooperation between the Government of Balochistan, from the provincial to the district level and international organizations such as UNICEF, USAID, PED, TVO, World Bank and the Society for Community Support for Primary Education Balochistan and Village education Committee, which is made up of parents, has enabled the MFTTU and the society to bring together available community resources for girls education in the rural areas and to train female teacher for the villages. Although it is an excellent programme and has a significant impact on the female education in Balochistan, it was losing its desired benefits because of issues related to time and the handling of the programme by traditional people. When I came back from AKU-IED, I was given charge of this programme. On the basis of my experience at IED, I introduced some new professional interventions in the program. They worked very well. The main objective of this program was to increase the sustainable enrolment of girls in Primary schools in the rural areas by identifying qualified females from the villages who will become primary teachers in the villages. The main task is to train these teachers in their own environment and close to their communities. This paper describes the efforts made by the Education Department Government of Balochistan with the assistance of donors and effective support of communities to make a significant break through in female education in the rural areas of Balochistan. This paper will also explain the main features of the research studies carried out on the effectiveness of this program by different organizations. On the basis of these studies and the emerging trends of Education sector reforms I was given a task to revise the model of this program. With the help of discussions and consultation with teachers and field staff officers the revised version of MFTTP was developed. It is a beautiful blend of theory and practice spread over three years. Although it is an excellent model in theory, a huge number of female teachers have dropped out from the course in subsequent years and are finding out alternate easy ways for getting the certificate through Allama Iqbal Open University Courses or from some other private institutions. This paper also looks into the realities of the introduction of any change and its sustainability. One must be very careful while bringing about change based only on a theoretical basis without taking into consideration field realities. It also reflects the alternate mechanism (shortcuts) present in the society and their attractiveness for teachers in getting annual increments or running salaries by proving them qualifications through such pirated certificates.

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