Pakistan is facing a serious challenge to ensure all children, particularly the most disadvantaged, attend, stay and learn in school. While enrollment and retention rates are improving, progress has been slow to improve education indicators in Pakistan.
Currently, Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC) with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school, representing 44 per cent of the total population in this age group. In the 5-9 age groups, 5 million children are not enrolled in schools and after primary-school age, the number of OOSC doubles, with 11.4 million adolescents between the ages of 10-14 not receiving formal education. Disparities based on gender, socio-economic status, and geography are significant; in Sindh, 52% of the poorest children (58% girls) are out of school, and in Baluchistan, 78% of girls are out of school.
Nearly 10.7 million boys and 8.6 million girls are enrolled at the primary level and this drops to 3.6 million boys and 2.8 million girls at the lower secondary level.
Gaps in service provision at all education levels are major constraint to education access. Socio-cultural demand-side barriers combined with economic factors and supply-related issues (such as availability of school facility), together hamper access and retention of certain marginalized groups, in particular adolescent girls. Putting in place a credible data system and monitoring measures to track retention and prevent drop-out of out-of-school children is still a challenge.
At systems level, inadequate financing, limited enforcement of policy commitments and challenges in equitable implementation impede reaching the most disadvantaged. An encouraging increase in education budgets has been observed though at 2.8% of the total GDP, it is still well short of the 4% target. Given the shortage of funding, creating a demand for intervention from private sector as well as from the communities in education sector to increase the access and provide equal opportunities to marginalize segments of population.
SDO is aiming to offer quality schooling to out of school rural children residing in the districts in Sindh. The project is designed on the basis of one room school model. Regular donors of SDO would be encouraged to build the mosque (and an extra room for school, as per requirement) that would also serve as a community school for up to 100 students at least and the organization would operate the school in the facility. The idea is to bring back the idea of using mosque for the purposes of modern education, which runs parallel in lines with the social, traditional and religious values of the society.
The core emphasis of the project is to ensure the provision of quality education to out of school children to ensure free, equitable and quality primary education that leads into improving lifelong learning opportunities for all as well as enable families to improve their monthly household through their capacity building and providing technical skills.