IPF FELLOW 2003: Sabina Qureshi
FIELD OF RESEARCH: Gender And Education
RESEARCH TOPIC: Girl Child Education: A Lifeline To Development

To conduct an inquiry into the limited access to basic primary education in Pakistan
To critically assess gender dimensions of policies and programs on primary education of the Federal Government/ International development organizations/ NGO’s in Pakistan
To compare the gender indicators for education with other developing and developed countries and draw up lessons for its dissemination
To make important lessons and guidelines available to the Government/ international development organizations/Human Rights groups and NGO’s engaged in development programs on gender and education

The Fourteenth OSI Policy Fellowship Seminar was held in March 2003 at the Centre for Policy Studies, Budapest, Hungary to provide basic orientation to Fellows on Public Policy, Research Design and Policy Advocacy. The Seminar through series of lectures and group activities provided training in policy oriented research, policy advocacy and writing effective policy papers. Meetings with the IPF resource persons and consultations with the Working Group Mentors were productive.

a]  Meeting with the Mentor
 The start off point of research was the initial meeting with my Mentor in March 2003 to discuss research activities and develop plan of action. My Mentor recommended readings on the subject for background study. The readings helped in Problem Definition of my research project.

b] Literature Review/Documentary Review
From March to June 2003, I read literature on Education. I also reviewed Five Year Development Plans of the Government of Pakistan, reports of several Commissions and Committees on Education, Documents as Constitution and religious instructions on Education, Primary Education Programs of the Federal Government and the Provincial Governments. The study particularly included recent Education Sector Reforms of the Government, I also analyzed donor assisted education programs, at present running in the country, as summarized below:
Asian Development Bank assisted projects are aimed at qualitative and quantitative improvement in science, mathematics and computer education
European Union is aiming for social sector programs in health and education. Education is on top of its agenda.
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation in collaboration with UNICEF is now aiming at Universal Quality Primary Education in six selective districts of the Punjab province.
United Nations Population Fund has joined hands with the Ministry of Education for a project on Population and Development Education for Youth through intervention in curriculum and text books, circulation of teachers and educational administration
USAID’s focus is on Pakistan Primary Education and Literacy Program to assist in education policy planning and training, curriculum development and fostering girl child education
World Bank seeks to spearhead education and educate all children by 2015.
World Food Program is targeted towards education of the girl child and provides incentive program for the children of the underdeveloped areas through Food for Education Program
UNESCO has also generated community participation for promoting girl child education

c] Participation in Education Policy Agenda Setting Meetings/ Review Meetings/ Regional Conferences/Seminars On Education
• March 27, 2003: A meeting on United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Pakistan was held in March at Islamabad, Pakistan. The UN Heads of Agencies met the representatives of Government of Pakistan to review Common Country Assessment in areas as education, community self-development, public-private partnerships in gender-conscious social sector reforms, Government of Pakistan’s National Plan of Action of Children, so on and so forth. The meeting was a good exposure to have insights of the agenda of the UN Specialized agencies functional in Pakistan and their priority areas of interventions in the coming years. It was also good to learn of our government’s priority areas in social sector development.

• March, 2003: Met the Project Director of a pioneering education project Tawana Pakistan. The meeting was quite fruitful. The Project Director, an educationist, informed that the nutritional status of Pakistani children, particularly girls is lowest compared to the majority of countries, including Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia and Pacific. The low nutrition indicators suggest that additional resources were needed urgently to improve the current situation. The Tawana Pakistan Project is therefore being implemented as a Nutrition Package for school-going girls (five to nine years) in 26 High Poverty District all over the country.

• April 28 & 29, 2003 : A Workshop on Human Rights  was arranged by Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights in collaboration with NORAD and SDC at Islamabad, Pakistan. The forum provided an opportunity to meet representatives from various NGO’s and Journalists. I met representatives of the Fazaldad Human Rights Institute, Islamabad, Educate Pakistan, Islamabad and SPARC, Islamabad. Both the meetings and literature were productive to observe the focus of the private sector/NGO’s programs on education.

Of the above, Fazaldad Human Rights Institute offers human rights education and professional training and identifies human rights abuses against children, women or other deprived people. Educate Pakistan is a private foundation promoting free universal primary education. SPARC is a non-profit organization with the same aims as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is trying to improve the lot of children in Pakistan by highlighting their plight, writing and disseminating publications on various subjects relating to them and pressing government quarters to do something for children of the country.

• April, 2003: UNESCO Conference on Education in collaboration with the Ministry of  Education:  The conference was a good orientation on UN Millennium goals and role of UNESCO in promoting girl child education.

• May 26, 2003 :National Consultative Workshop, Islamabad on Gender Reform Consultative Plan: A good exposure to reforms in Gender and Governance both at the Federal and the Provincial level

• South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC) Ministerial Conference on Children, Islamabad, June 2003: As the dates of the meeting over-lapped with June Seminar, I was unable to attend the conference but I had feedback on the conference and the relevant material. The material provides an interesting study for comparative study on state of education within the South Asian Region.
The June OSI Policy Fellowship Seminar was held at the Centre for Policy Studies, Budapest, Hungary to provide orientation through lectures and training through practical group exercises  in defining and structuring policy problems, in using policy instruments to develop policy options and design policy implementation process and in effective communication of policy recommendations. Research work was discussed with the group mentors and views/comments were noted.

After two fellow seminars, discussions with my Mentors and feedback from the above activities, I decided to revisit my initial proposal and to redefine it with more focus on following three aspects:
i. Right from the 7th Five Year Plan, the focus of the Government has shifted to primary education. Reports of the various commissions and committees has been supporting universal primary education, there has been no legal or policy barrier towards female education. The religious and constitutional provisions promote literacy. Pakistan is also a signatory to the Convention on Elimination of All Form of Discrimination Against Women and Convention on the Rights of the Child which speak of education for all. The Government of Pakistan has taken various reform initiatives to promote universal primary education particularly female education. Similarly donor community and civil society organizations have been active in promoting education. What is mind boggling is that despite all these efforts, statistics show that the literacy rate has improved only by 1.6% over a period of decade, why, to investigate?
ii. Secondly statistics also show not only the widening gap between male and female education but also the rural-urban gap. Both the Gross Enrollment Rate and Net Enrollment Rate has declined. Inspite of the successive governments in 1990’s, commitment to the primary education, statistics show no significant progress? Where as other countries of the region as Bangladesh, initiated universal literacy programs in 1990’s, show significant progress.
iii. What are the social costs for a country like Pakistan, if more then half of the population is illiterate? No one can value a life saved but I think a crude calculation is instructive.
During the revision, I tried to narrow down the focus of my research, which was initially presented. I speak of the women, children, both girls and boys, between the ages 5-9, street children, children in labour.

During July/August-2003, I met researchers, experts and activists in the field of education with whom I had discussions on how to conduct field study, what should be the target group and what important aspects to be covered in the interview. The discussions helped in devising a questionnaire and has been submitted to the Mentor for views/recommendations. A preliminary questionnaire has also been prepared in the local language to assess the views of the stakeholders on various above polices/projects being run on universal primary education.

The above discussions in July/August also helped to establish a list of experts/contact persons from the Government/International development agencies/donor agencies in the field of Gender and Education, with whom meetings are being arranged one by one throughout August to October -2003.

Through guidance from various experts and contact with IPF Fellows, I have been able to utilize good research sites for making comparative studies. On recommendation of one of the IPF Fellow, I have been to identify a very interesting case study on a NGO active in India in imparting education to un-served and un-reached children. Pakistan’s National Commission for Women Development web-site also provides up-dated information on education and related issues. List of related links/web-sites will be shortly available on my web-page

Developed research briefs to introduce objectives and methodology of the project to the
government officers, consultants and project experts. I have collected information and data on
state of primary education in Pakistan for the previous ten years, five year development plans of the government commencing from the seventh five year plan which originally had brought a paradigm shift in government planning emphasizing more on primary and specifically on girl child education, identified the strength of women officers working at various levels at the above Ministries. In addition, I am negotiating with them the potential ways in which it is possible to initiate investigation for current status of education of the children in schools and education policies. Discussions are underway with the experts in the Centre for Poverty Reduction, Planning and Development Division to analyze what would be the social costs with over 55% of the population being illiterate in the country. Visit to the National Commission on Status of Women is due shortly.
The initial draft of questionnaire aimed at exploring existing school policies and regulations has been mainly developed as a result of dialogue with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women and my Mentor. It has also been translated into Urdu the national language and is under circulation for pilot testing.
Preliminary questionnaire has been prepared and teachers, parents, students are being interviewed in Islamabad and its peripheral areas with the help of surveyors in model case study cities, both rural and urban. Since we have vacations in school from June till late August, visits to school and interviewing students and teachers was delayed from July to August. Field visits were taken in late July/August to interview street children. The process is going on to date. With theoretical background research, field observations are to be co-opted

During August 2003, I initiated my work on compilation of the Interim Research Paper, Activity Report, Financial Report, Policy Paper and made modifications in my Web Page. The report has been submitted.

Active contact has been maintained through networking with people from various walks of life for exchange of views/guidance.

To Activity Report from September 2003 to March 2004

To Activity Time Table

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