More girls could be out of school across KP after COVID-19 crisis

Staff Reporter

while 64 % girls as the ratio of out of school girls may increase due to the C ovid-19 Crisis if the schools were reopen. This was said in an online session on Challenges to Girls Education in COVID Crisis was organized by Blue Veins which was attended by young girls, parents, teacher associations, lawyers and CSOs. It was discussed that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has made significant progress towards improving girls’ education in the last five years and by allocating 70 % of its education development budget towards girls’ education but both the government and civil society must be vigilant as we cannot risk rolling back this progress and remember that on some children, the impact of COVID-19 will be temporary. But for others, this pandemic will be devastating and will alter the course of their lives. According to Civil Society organizations girls are particularly vulnerable when schools close for long periods of time and fear that large number of girls could be out of school after this initial wave of the COVID-19 crisis has passed. In the context of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for many adolescent girls, especially those from low-income countries and the poorest communities, access to education was already a challenge even before COVID-19. It is estimated that there are 1.8 million out of school children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa out of them 64 % are girls and the COVID-19 can potentially exacerbate preexisting inequalities and intensify the existing learning crisis. Qamar Naseem Program Coordinator Blue Veins and Education Rights Activist said “While we continue to highlight the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on adolescent girls and young women, we must also recognize their creativity, innovative solutions, and effective partnership in shaping the response and recovery. Adolescent girls and boys can be agents of change in their communities, but for this to happen, the education system needs to intentionally ensure equity of voice and opportunity of participation for all adolescent girls. An education system that recognizes that girls’ voices are valuable and allows for their meaningful participation contributes towards girls’ and women’s empowerment” Sana Ahmad Coordinator of a Provincial youth lead Alliance Ujala and girl’s rights activists said “We’ll need to do more than simply reopen classrooms to make it possible for the poorest and most marginalized girls to return to school. We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to transform education and reimagine the way students learn, so that when schools reopen, they are more gender-responsive and inclusive, help all students to learn, look after all students’ health and well-being, and are digitally connected”. Ejaz Saeed an Education Rights expert said “Without urgent action to remove barriers to girls’ education, this COVID 19 could become a children’s rights crisis by denying students their right to learn. Now is the time for governments to reimagine education system so that girls and boys have equal opportunity to attend school, or access quality learning remotely?”