PAKISTAN: Girls learn rights, attend school
Salesian missionaries focus on education for girls in Lahore and Quetta
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries provide social development and educational services to poor youth and their families in centers in Lahore and Quetta, Pakistan. Salesian schools provide economic benefits, scholarships and accommodations for students from the poorest families so that education is not only accessible but also an incentive for parents to send their children to school.
Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in South Asia at less than 50 percent. Although the country’s constitution acknowledges free and compulsory education for children and youth between the ages of 5-16, the rule is often not followed in rural areas for those over age 13.
Salesians have a particular focus on ensuring that young girls are able to start and continue their education. Unfortunately, many girls abandon their studies before the end of compulsory schooling to take care of their families or because of early marriage. This happens in both villages and large urban centers such as Lahore. Some families believe that early marriage will solve the family’s economic challenges.
To help combat this, Salesians provide training programs focused on educating girls and young women about their rights with the aim of creating and spreading awareness and self-determination. Salesians encourage girls and young women to continue their studies. They also organize courses to impart knowledge and skills aimed at learning a trade. One of the students said, “If we study, we can have a brighter future.”
Salesian school fees are very low, since most families have one income to support many children. Scholarships are needed so that students can complete their education and skills training in order to become independent members of society.
One of the educational facilities is the Don Bosco Learning Center, within the Don Bosco Quetta community. The center has been teaching primary and secondary school in Quetta since 2000. More than 780 students, ages 8-22, attend this center. Students also have access to a computer lab to learn technology skills in order to compete in the current labor market.
According to the World Bank, 31.3 percent of people living in Pakistan fall below the poverty line. Gender plays a role in poverty in the country. Pakistan has traditional gender roles that define a woman’s place in the home and not the workplace. As a result, access to education is challenging for girls and society investments are less. There are few opportunities for women and girls in the country outside of traditional roles. This is evidenced by the disparities in education including the literacy rate.
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World Bank – Pakistan