IDC Inquiry into Pakistan follow up
- Aid cuts could leave 9,000 vulnerable girls out of education: We still do not know whether we will receive funding for the second stage of our TEACH girls’ education programme. We had initially been told we would find out by mid-March. In the best-case scenario, where we receive an extension, girls will still be drastically impacted. We have had to pause programming. This means that 5,000 girls in the second cohort will not finish the full programme because of the delays in donor’s feedback. This means they will have to transition into government schools at a lower level than they would have been able to previously. Their long-term education prospects will be harmed. If our budget is cut, we will have to cancel the 2nd Cohort. This means 9,000 vulnerable and marginalised girls who would have accessed education programmes will be denied the chance and may never access education in the future.
- Communication issues with FCDO third parties.
IRC communicates primarily with the Fund Manager. The fund manager is a third party who manages the grant and acts as an intermediary between us and the donor. There has been little – if any – communication between the donor and the implementer which leaves little room to make adaptation. Direct communication with the donor is usually limited to meetings that take place mostly once a quarter. Given the fast-changing operational context in Pakistan, it provides little opportunity to discuss, agree, and respond to the emerging needs with the donor resulting from these changes in the context. Furthermore, the fund manager role has seen a high rate of staff turnover, which makes it harder to establish a trusted and informed relationship with whoever is in post.
- Secure infrastructure vital for girls’ education
- Poor school infrastructure is one of the main factors impacting academic performance of students in Pakistan, especially girls. There is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure facilitates better instruction, improves student outcomes, and reduces dropout rates. A particular issue with schools, especially in rural areas, is poor sanitation – one of the main reasons why girls drop out of education. Only 61% of government schools have drinkable water; 59% have a useable toilet.
- Studies reveal that where resources don’t address girls’ needs, it can limit their learning. Providing a wide range of resources that do address girls’ needs, such as textbooks, teaching guides, and the internet all help ensure girls are both in school and learning.
- It is also important that schools have proper buildings and boundary walls to assure parents of the safety of girls in schools. Whilst classes being taught outside or under trees can be appropriate as a break from teaching in the school building, they are no substitute for a proper classroom.
- Number of schools, especially for girls, in remote and sparsely populated areas like Balochistan should be increased to avoid long distance walks and to protect girls and boys from the risks of abuse and harm.
- Tribal issues and religious discrimination a factor in education
Tribal structure, norms and values are strictly opposed to female education, particularly coeducation. Pakistani society has many fault lines across tribal, religious and ethnic identities. These interact in different ways to impact the ability of girls to access education. The delivery of education should ensure it accounts for the impact of these different identities. For example, the curriculum taught in the school should promote inter-faith harmony, respect and peace building and avoid any sectarian and religious agenda. Schools should not be established in locations or with names that relate to personal, religious, ethnic, or political identity. Information on how religious and ethnic minorities have and are contributing to Pakistan should be included in curriculum. Writings promoting tolerance and acceptance for fellow citizens and humans should be highlighted. IRC ensures to follow these guidelines as a foundational building block for any programming in Pakistan.
- Donors need to improve synergies on programming
Quality education delivery in Pakistan requires improved programmatic synergy. The donors should coordinate among each other to not only avoid duplication of efforts but to identify areas for thematic integration and geographic collaboration. For example, one donor may decide to support improvement of physical infrastructure while the other donor may intervene in teachers training to improve education delivery. For example, FCDO is supporting the constructions of schools, provision of missing facilities and technical assistance in Punjab & KP under Punjab Education Support Program and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Support Program whereas USAID implemented large-scale teacher training programmes under Pakistan Reading Project to improve education delivery in Pakistan. This approach should be more commonplace in Pakistan. It will require technical support, financial investments and greater alignment over country development objectives from all the donors which will lead to improved educational outcome for girls in the context like Pakistan.
IRC Programmatic examples
Teach and Educate Adolescent girls with Community Help (TEACH)
- The project targets marginalised out-of-school girls in Baluchistan province, Pakistan and addresses two key barriers: access to education and harmful social and cultural norms. TEACH encourages increased demand for girls’ education by improving teaching quality and the broader environment in formal schools. The programme targets 21,000 girls through both community and home-based classes, and radio programming.
- Our programme has challenged social norms and established the right for girls to have a quality education. Our evaluation found that over 80% of parents or caregivers of girls on our programme were in favour of girls’ education, vocational trainings, and employment. Over 50% wanted girls to complete grade 10 and above of education. In fact, the IRC and our partners have received requests from the community for more education projects and more spaces.
- TEACH is widening access to education for marginalized girls: The 13,000 girls targeted by the programme have either never been to school or have dropped out previously. The girls lived in rural, geographically isolated areas with reduced access to education. Furthermore, the cohorts include girls with disabilities, girls who have experienced or are at risk of gender-based violence, and girls at risk of early marriage.
- TEACH has used creative methods like radio lessons. These lessons were adapted from government-approved curriculum to widen access to education even further. They were well received by parents and their children. To date, TEACH has Identified over 20,000 learners and enrolled over 11,000 in home-based classes in five districts of Balochistan. These students have so far received 6,000 lessons through radio. An additional 3,000 will be enrolled until July 2021. Furthermore, the government authorities are supporting further roll-out by using government funds to purchase more airtime in different districts. UK aid is having a sustainable impact and influencing the government’s approach.
- TEACH has successfully adapted to the new COVID reality
- TEACH consortium led by IRC provided messages on Covid-19 prevention through radio, IEC materials, PPEs and hygiene kits to adolescent girls. 5,000 dignity kits were distributed amongst adolescent girls. Nearly 320,000 were reached with COVID-specific messages on prevention and girls’ education.
- To support safeguarding, IRC teams developed and distributed educational material and specialised games to about 20,000 girls.
- Under TEACH, IRC has adopted a multi-layered learning approach where small groups of girls (5 to 8) in a specified house are taught by a trained facilitator by following Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP). This learning is also reinforced through radio lessons broadcasted through local radio networks 6 days a week with repeat broadcasts. Weekly radio talk shows and radio drama with local characters are broadcast to advocate for the education of girls.
- Under the ‘Girls Learn’ stream of the project, 540 home-based classes were set up, and 540 facilitators trained. These classes enrolled 11,000 adolescent girls, who were also provided textbooks and classroom supplies.
Our other recent UK funding includes:
RELIEF, a four-year project (2016-2019) providing relief and recovery assistance, including WASH and economic wellbeing, that reached 400,000 people in the newly merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa;
Building Disaster Resilience in Pakistan, supporting communities in Ghotki and Dadu to minimise the impact of disasters;
We also received funding from the FCDO to provide cash assistance to approximately 48,000 families in five districts across two provinces in response to COVID-19 (Oct 2020 - Mar 2021).
Finally, we received UK aid funding from 2015 – 2020 to deliver the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) Vulnerability Assessment and Profiling (IVAP) project. This project identified updated information on the needs and vulnerabilities of IDPs. This enabled agencies to provide humanitarian assistance in a more impartial and targeted manner. The project was used to support the governments COVID response, including Track and Trace tools and analysis of developing outbreaks.
 (PESP 2, https://devtracker.fcdo.gov.uk/projects/GB-1-202697)
 (KESP 2, https://devtracker.fcdo.gov.uk/projects/GB-1-202328),