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Press Release: Education key but progress uneven for Pakistan

Islamabad, 6 May 2011 – Since “Education for All” (EFA) goals were adopted and firm commitments made in 1990, progress in educating more children, especially girls, has been uneven globally and in Pakistan as well, UNICEF said today.

Marking Global Action Week on Education which focuses on education for women and girls, UNICEF stated that globally 67 million children are out of school, of which 53 per cent are girls. In Pakistan, some 7 million children are out of primary school, of which close to 60 per cent are girls.

“If progress is not accelerated, even more children will be out of school by 2015. The challenge is to ensure access and quality education for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children,” says Dan Rohrmann, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. “Together with the Government of Pakistan, the UN Delivering as One Programme, and NGO partners, we all need to make much greater effort to get more girls in school. But Pakistan will reap tremendous rewards if this can be achieved,” he added.

According to the UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report (2010), gender, wealth and household location strongly influence the likelihood of a child being out of school. In Pakistan, 49 per cent of the poorest children aged 7 to 16 were out of school in 2007, compared with 5 per cent of children from the wealthiest households. Poor girls living in rural areas are sixteen times less likely to be in school than boys from the wealthiest household living in urban areas.

With a population of 180 million people, almost half of which is less than 18 years of age, Pakistani youth play a critical role in shaping the country’s future progress. Applying the equity-based approach to education where the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are provided with access to quality education, Pakistan can greatly accelerate its progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

UNICEF and its UN Delivering as One Programme partners and others work with the federal and provincial governments to overcome barriers preventing access to education, including ‘Back to School’ campaigns, school fee abolition, child-friendly schools, and early childhood education. Poverty, exploitation and armed conflict magnify the risk girls face even as they go to school, forcing many to stay home or drop out of fear for their safety.

While pre-primary education has improved, there is still a large gap and too many children have little or no access to the first step for school readiness - early childhood education. For a child to thrive, early learning is fundamental for future education.




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