Categories
SDGs and Pakistan

Achieving gender parity in rural Pakistan schools: A postcolonial perspective (Part 2)

Image Credit

In this second post that explores the challenges of achieving gender parity in rural Balochistan schools, I argue that various policy developments are problematic in postcolonial Pakistan. In this post I draw on three overlapping forms of globalization: commodification of human efforts; expansion of western culture; and influence of global policies to the state policies to illustrate the divide in policy and practice for achieving gender parity in schools in Balochistan.

Commodification of human efforts

Balochistan’s rural areas have a low supply of schooling options for girls, yet a high demand for girls’ education among the local communities. In contrast, many urban communities who have multiple options available to girls. This problem is compounded by the transnational flow of global education policy and ideas through the policy networks in Pakistan. These networks are understood and translated by policy actors at the national level which are insufficiently represented from Balochistan. 

These policy actors comprise the top-level bureaucrats, politicians, education experts, UN organizations, civil servants, philanthropists, education entrepreneurs and so forth. The network of these policy actors develops and enacts education policy. These policies have little impact on girls’ education in rural areas of Balochistan for two reasons. First, the stereotypical image of Balochistan, as a remote, tribal and society unwilling to educate girls, dominates the policy discourse. This is because most of the policy actors at the national level either have never been to Balochistan province or have limited knowledge of the rural culture and society. Second, in Pakistan the children of upper and upper middle-class policy actors are enrolled in elite private schools. This creates a gap in understanding the challenges and opportunities of rural girls in Balochistan who rely only on public schools because of the shortage of available private school options. The remote villages and isolated populations are neither a good business opportunity for private education entrepreneurs nor administratively viable for philanthropists. Therefore, the children of rural Balochistan, particularly girls have limited options to attend quality schools (with English as a language of instruction). 

More importantly, the apparatus of bureaucracy, although powerful, is inherently inefficient and relies on the conventional modes of policy making. After the 18th constitutional amendment in 2010, education, previously in the federal concurrent list, was devolved completely as the provincial government’s responsibility including policy formulation and enactment. However, education policy discourse and education curriculum are still influenced by the federal government as well as multinational and transnational organizations in different ways, including overlapping of national and provincial policy actors. This influence is partly due to the lack of interest and motivation from the provincial government’s political sphere and bureaucracy and partly due to the narratives of uniformity and national integration. 

Photo Credit

The expansion of Western culture

At the turn of twenty first century national education policy (2009) has emerged out of the global and transnational influences, in the shape of new development goals. Education policy is formed beyond the boundaries of nation state at different locations in the network of various people, sites, places, events and organizational forms. These networks are a form of new imperialism, and a continuation of Western imperialism which threatens local and indigenous cultures, and which, in turn, promote persistent inequalities. The less the country is ‘developed’ the more global influence in the national policy landscape, and the more external penetration there is in the national education terrain. The route of such policy ideas is from the core to the periphery, and ‘elite partnership’ and ‘postcolonial elite’ play a major role in (re) production of imperial and colonial structures. For example, although the private sector is providing enhanced access and better-quality education compared to the public sector, it is, simultaneously, promoting English education as the major instrument for upward mobility in society as well as becoming a source of inequality. The middle and upper middle classes can afford the expenses of private schools, learn English and have more employment opportunities in high paid positions in both the public and private sectors. Those who graduate from public schools do not have the opportunity to learn English, therefore, they end up either unemployed or in low paid employment. 

The influence of global policies on state policies

In Balochistan province, the education policy process is significantly influenced by the transnational organizations, UN agencies and donors because they are proactive in bringing the provincial education policy and strategy in line to their annual plans or at least to their project tenure. These policy actors in key management, bureaucratic and political positions at the provincial level exert their influence through policy translation, policy interpretation and policy implementation. These positions are mostly filled by men from urban backgrounds with little knowledge beyond their district or recognition of diverse cultural, social and patriarchal heterogeneity throughout the province. For example, the Balochistan Compulsory Education Act (BCEA) 2014 announced that public education was being provided free of cost. However, the enactment of this policy is difficult in rural areas because schools have hidden costs including school uniforms, shoes, stationery and so on. This means that families are unable to send their daughters to school. Further, there are families who migrate seasonally for work on agricultural farms, and who find enrolling their daughters into school very challenging as they move from one remote location to another. 

In addition, the enactment of policy is complicated by a gaping hole in the collection of information on girls’ school participation. Presently, there is no data available for girls not enrolled in school in Balochistan. The formation of institutions is desperately needed to establish mechanism for recording, updating and tracing girls’ participation and achievement in school for the purpose of governance and to inform future policy development. This lack of data leaves many questions we do not have answers to, such as, who is not enrolled in school, where do they live, what are their circumstances, and how can they can be enrolled in school to succeed in education? 

Photo credit: District Education Group

Gaps between policy and policy implementation

In conclusion, I reiterate that power relations in the new and changing sites of policy processes play an important role in policy discourse through the new and conventional policy networks in Balochistan. These networks reify globalization through its forms of commodification of human efforts, expansion of western culture and influence of global policies to the state policies. The devolved education in the post-18th constitutional amendment in Pakistan and Incheon Declaration redefine and reallocate the assemblage of sites, people, events, institutions and authorities, and attempt to establish interactive relationships with the provincial and local policy actors.

In 2010 the education sector was decentralised from the federal to the provincial level through the 18th amendment. Many international, national and local actors, presently, in the policy processes in Balochsitan represent the upper class which in turn displaces local knowledge, local concerns and even silences local voices that tend to distort the reality and perpetuate the gender disparity in education in rural Balochistan. The male, urban upper and upper middle-class policy actors who enroll their children in English medium private schools and influence the policy discourse for the rural girls in the province do not necessarily represent the realities of rural communities and girls. 

Photo credit

34 replies on “Achieving gender parity in rural Pakistan schools: A postcolonial perspective (Part 2)”

The writer seems to have close and clear understanding of the problem, ” Achieving Gender Parity in Rural Balochistan Schools”. He highlights the hindrances precisely such as commodification of human efforts, poor performance of public schools, insufficient Private schools, ambivalent policies after 18th amendment and most importantly gapes between policy making and implementation.
His arguments shows structural problems powered by lack of consistent policy making and poverty.

Like

The writer has, yet again, pondered upon the core reasons responsible for creating disparity in education of girls, particularly from the rural areas of Balochistan. In fact, an all out effort has been made by the author to make it abundantly clear that a plethora of factors contribute to causing disparity in education of girls, particularly, of rural areas of Balochistan. Foremost among them is indeed the exclusive and inefficient policy making apparatus that remains oblivious to the core of the problem of increasingly volatile condition of girls education in rural areas of Balochistan. This endeavor of the author, in which he has aptly brought to the fore such loopholes in policy making, would probably catch the attention of the stakeholders concerned and provide them an opportunity to overcome these shortcomings accordingly.

Like

It is an amazing, insightful and thought provoking paper. The government of the region county/province can opt for it as a policy paper for course correction.

Like

The women in the region have been struggling a lot to seek gender parity. At times, they aren’t even allowed to right to vote. This kind of pieces truly reflect the dynamics And ground realities of the region. More work is to be done in this field.

Like

A masterpiece of writing which elaborates upon all the facts and realities in a very persuasive and rational manner. Read such a comprehensive piece after a long time which touches upon all the aspects

Like

There is a history of women in the subcontinent that they are expected to function within their frame work. Before marriage they had to obey their fathers and brothers and after marriage their husbands. Most of the women live in the state of withdrawal deprived of their identity and this is because of the lack of education and Pakistani women are denied due to social prestige and economic activity.The issues mentioned in this article are worth pondering and need to be addressed sooner than later.

Like

The Public sector education system Particularly in Balochistan and generally in Pakistan confronts multiple challenges ranging from mismanagement, absence of funding, gender disparity,Lack of enrollment, Teacher absenteeism etc. However gender gap, being one of the key ailments of education system in Balochistan and as well in Pakistan , has never been an important concern for policy makers in the country . The author has rightly highlighted three important factors which are problematic for achieving gender parity in rural Pakistan education. This well researched piece is quite insightful regarding gender disparity in education system in rural Pakistan.

Like

A very comprehensive analysis on the shortcomings and lacunae of policies that rural girls education encounters in Balochistan. This article underscores the bureaucratic conventional mode of policy making, which is one of the major impediments in the way of girls education in rural areas of Balochistan. There are three parallel education systems pevail in Balochistan i.e; public, private and nadressas. The private sector provides with quality education and ultimately grab white collar jobs. While owing to outdated curriculum and inefficient assesment mechanism, public sector graduates end up either unemployed or underemployed. Morever this article also underlines the decentralization of educational powers. Following enactment of 18th amendment, powers devolved to provinces. But due to callous attitude of provincial policy actors, curriculum and policy discourse are influenced by federal goverment. Overall it is very brief and to the point analysis that entails every aspect of challenges that girls face in attaining education in rural areas of Balochistan.

Like

Dear Shahwani sb,
A remarkable attempt, writing on the Balochistan Post Colonial scenario, focusing on the girls education. It is a good research based study, by covering almost all policy level issues with some facts and figures.
In my point of view, the girls education system is not considered on priority in the earlier years of independence, but later on this has been improving with the support of all international and national organizations. The UN agencies input is commendable. But the point I would like to make is that the change and shift in the mind-set is very crucial and the other reason which is hampering the girls education growth is poverty. Balochistan is a poor province not only in terms of financially but because of backwardness, conservativeness, religious dominancy in some parts, male dominancy, access to schools, facilities available in schools, unavailability of learned teachers, managers and the very important aspect is the corruption in public money.
The government spending in education sector is almost negligible and for girls quite alarming. The International organizations, have been contributing a lot, specially UNISEF in early girls child programs. They have been supporting to Govt of Balochistan, by providing Real Time Monitoring Systems to check on teachers presence in schools, because they don’t bother to attend and teach.
At policy level, we don’t have serious professional approach. The bureaucrats, political leaders and rest are not professionals and unfortunately they plan and monitor.
Shahwani sb, we need good professionals like you to write and play a very positive role in uplifting the quality education among girls as well as boys.
Best wishes and warm regards

Like

A detailed write up clearly highlighting the hindrances which are against gender parity. Though the challenges are tough yet these can be addressed.

Like

When made binary oppositions, the world kicked start the worst engine of life. Fine, if it were about day and night, black and white, earth and sky, but it did the highest wrong when gendered gender; man and woman. Among all, the sub-continent performed ferociously to make man man and woman as weak as never. Undeniably, pakistan speaks harsh in general and Balochistan in particular when it is about female nursing and nurturing. Girl schooling is meant the worst bid in the provincial settings. This piece of writing has evinced the uneasiness any girl faces the most about in the atmosphere of Balochistan. It is always encouraging and primarily needed to speak out for the rights of weak gender, and particularly when she has to read and write for herself.

Like

The writer has touched the core issue; policy challanges, implemenation on the ground level. No matter how ingenious policies are, if they arn’t made without consulting the local and indigenous population they fell flat upon the expectation. This is core issue in education policy implemenation specially in Balochistan. First time a sane analysis which has highlighted the stumbling block in girls primary education and gender based disparity in education system.

Like

The Article 25 A of the constitution obligates the state to provide free and compulsory quality education to children of age between 5 and 16. However, in Balochistan’s case, this remains mere an article of constitution, un implemented. Writer has very vell argued that prevailing stereotypes and less awareness about Balochistan are further depriving the marginalised segment of the society -women -from their Basic right of Education. Moreover, the discriminatory education system in the form Private education has created a Gap between students private and public institutions and this has indirectly become reason of social class difference. In this case, economic hurdles are further intensifying the situation. The plight of girls education and gender parity in Balochistan can only be achieved through proper policy making and proving girls of rural area an opportunity of distant learning.

Like

The writer has rightly addressed the patriarchal restrictions for women to avail their due rights.Those rights which are the fundamental needs of any human around the world.They have deprived of their basic right of freedom of choice and life by male-dominancy. The patriarchy has engulfed woman in chains of socio-cultural and socio-political barriers.The writer has unveiled the dismal face of post-18th amendment which could not help matriarchy a little even.As the writer mentioned still more than half women population are being ghosted from educational institutes by their parents or societal accusations.A nice piece of writing and highly recommend and appreciated ..

Like

I am very glad the the author wrote this essay. It is well written, needed and with useful summary. This is an interesting topic and I enjoyed what clearly has the potential to be very rich data set. I think it contributes towards further investigations. This work presents a paradigm that that can be broadly and usefully applied.

Like

The biggest issue of both the post colonial societies and postmodern epistemology is the difficulty in clearly conceptualizing the social phenomenon. In the process of history, trade and conquests made cultural assimilation not only possible but created a diverse cultural milieu where a single perspective can hardly represent all the reality. The writer in this post has accentuated important themes that are though complex in nature but crucial in understanding the socio-cultural trends. There is indeed a dearth of such efforts to explore and understand different concepts under the framework post Colonialism. This is therefore a great initiative towards an important direction.

Like

Dear Javed Shahawani,
I must say it is a beautifully written blog on one of the most important issues i.e. gender parity at the school level in rural Balochistan. It is a proven fact that gender parity is the key to development and prosperity but unluckily it has always remained neglected at all levels in Balochistan in particular and Pakistan in general. You have correctly highlighted the gaps between the policy and practice with the pernicious impacts of neo-colonialism in the shape of globalization. The devolution of education to the provinces as a consequence of the 18th amendment, provided a golden opportunity to the bureaucracy, civil society, and political leadership of Balochistan to formulate research-based, inclusive, and practicable policies, espousing gender parity, local values, and contextual needs but they have not succeeded yet. I believe such write-ups will help inform public opinion and lead to create an enlightening discourse around education and gender equality in Balochistan. Please keep it!

Like

The researcher has done a remarkable service to us through identifying the problem areas; guiding towards solutions and future research.

Inspite of the implementation of BCEA (Balochistan Compulsory Education Act) 2014, the girls in rural areas could not be brought to schools—the reason explored by research is intriguing that insufficient representation of policy actors from within Balochistan does not allow to tap the actual problems such as the hidden costs (including uniform, shoes, etc) and seasonal migration. Moreover, the study negated the long misperceived notion that there is unwillingness in tribal society to educate girls instead suggested a dire need to study and understand the rural culture of Balochistan before formulating policies for it.

Since it has been found by the research that private education entrepreneurs and philanthropists do not serve in remote villages and isolated populations, it is necessary for government to engage local communities and train them to serve in their areas. English medium of instruction must be made accessible to students in public schools to avoid their unemployment or low employment.

Ten years of implementation of 18th amendment has shown that devolution of policy formulation and enactments to provincial governments has yet to achieve its goal which could be possible through check and balance from federal government. Accountability is also needed to avoid displacement of local knowledge and concerns, and silencing of local voices to avoid distortion of reality and perpetuate gender parity in education in rural Balochistan.

The researcher has proposed guidelines for proceeding towards resolving the issue through recording, updating and tracing girls participation and achievement in schools for the purpose of governance and to inform future policy development.

Direction for future research has also been suggested—finding out those not enrolled in schools, where and in what circumstances do they live, and how they can be enrolled in school to succeed in education; answering these questions will provide rich data for decision making.

Undoubtedly, representation of rural communities and girls could not be dependent on male, urban upper and upper-middle-class policy actors who enrol their children in English medium private schools and influence policy discourse for the rural girls in the province.

I would say that in presence of the inevitable effects of imperialism (English medium of instruction for all), threat to local and indigenous culture and persistent inequalities could be balanced through inculcating subjects like local languages and cultural studies of provinces in the school curriculum, may be as optional subjects.

Like

Thank you for your efforts on wrting about an important issue of education in Pakistan. It is a great piece of writing.
I would like to comment on your view about public schools not providing english classes, hence the graduates of public schools end up employed or underpaid.
In my opinion, english is not only the reason why graduates of public schools are unemployed or under paid. There are many other reasons and issues which need to be addressed. Some majors issues are, Political instability, disproportionate influence on governance by security forces, corruption; Some people simply purchase teaching positions, and others obtain their jobs through political connections. When people obtain teaching positions illicitly, they may not be qualified or motivated to teach, and they may not be expected to. Especially in rural areas, some schools sit empty because corruption has redirected the teacher’s salary to someone who does not teach, according to education experts. Therefore, english comes at the last resort as far as employement is concerned.

Like

The writer deeply analyzed the lowest female education rate especially in rural areas of Balochistan, its main causes with adequate reasons and logic.
To seek the gender parity of female education is very well explained for the policy makers and public office holders in future.

Like

The writer deeply analyzed the lowest female education rate especially in rural areas of Balochistan, its main causes with adequate reasons and logic.
To seek the gender parity of female education is very well explained for the policy makers and public office holders in future.

Like

About time this issue desperately needed to be addressed. Women are the core/foundation of every society and if it isn’t for an educated women (a mother, daughter etc.) the society will cripple just like it has been happening. Crime ratio will grow and generations to come will stay in the darkness of ignorance and negative masculanity.

Balochistan has the brightest, dignified and honoured women and they need to be put forward for the success of its nation. Baloch women are very much neglected socially or economically let alone politically, and then they come under the radar of being heavily objectified, which leads to their growing mental disability.

How would a mentally unstable or depressed mother raise her son or her daughter?

Bachha Khan once said, “If you want to know how civilised ones culture is, see how they treat their women”.

Its time we treat our women like a human more than a convenience and facilitate them with a dignified life.

Like

Dear Javed, you have very rightly investigated the problem of gender gap, Balochistan is faced with. Ranging from global down to national and regional factors that influence policies have been articulated very well. In addition to the factors highlighted, access to and retention in schools is also one of the major factors that contribute in GPI. The educational facilities in the province are scarce due to the terrain and remoteness. Reports reveal that in Balochistan, there are approximately 22000 revenue villages. Of these, more than 9000 villages have no school facilities because of the required number of school going age children to feed the school. Such policies are also required to be revisited and aligned with the context and the contiguity of the province. Those who have access to school facilities, unfortunately, face students’ retention problems due to number of factors. Sadly, number of girls’ dropouts is on the very high side.
I once again applaud your efforts for investigating this critical issue.

Like

The article hi-lights lack of understanding of girls education In Balochistan by policy makers as being unable to study & understand the social economic challenges & cultural constraints of this unique rural society. I suggest this article is shared with policy actors & all stack holders prior to implement any education model in Balochistan.

Like

It is well articulated research paper, the true picture of issues discussed, the missing components specially policy related gaps are identified, which need to be addressed by the concerned authorities to solve the long standing issues. I really appreciate your wonderful work.

Like

Very good written and covered article. I have seen the difference of good and low schooling that brings a female to university where they sustain the standards or to lose the trust in higher education. Education for girls is somewhat not being taken as serious as it demands and results the society producing generations without a well growth at home just because we fail in giving good education to girls who become mothers.

Like

No doubt a well researched article. This should be shared with policy makers who then can see where the gaps are, are these related to local customs, religious factors or is it just fear among the people then anything else.

Like

Once again, very well written article. You’re correct in pointing out the fact that there is a complete lack of understanding of the local dynamics and demographics at the top level of Governmental policy making. However, things should be getting better now that the matters have been handed over to the provinces.
A fresh survey and data collection is needed in order to come up with a new educational policy that’s more in tune with the local norms and tribal necessities.

Like

The causes of the problem and possible solutions have been brilliantly worded. Moreover, I would like to add that a lot of efforts are being done to achieve gender parity in education by government, private sector and NGOS both local and international.
Such endeavors would really help all the actors who are working to bridge the gap.

Like

A very well researched and nicely articulated piece on an issue most concerning for people of Baluchistan, female gender education. Though the condition of girl education has been in dire conditions so far, but it’s a positive development that the intellectuals of the land are talking about it.

Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s