Food for Education Improves Girls’ Education: The Pakistan Girls’ Education Programme
Touseef Ahmed, Rashida Amir, Francisco Espejo, Aulo Gelli, Ute Meir.
World Food Programme
Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank the staff in the WFP Pakistan Office for their contributions and support in preparing this paper. The FFE programme theory was taken from Food for Education Works (WFP, 2007) and the case study was developed from the WFP Pakistan Situation analysis (WFP Pakistan, 2006).
In the last decade, access to primary education has improved significantly in many parts of the world (World Bank, 2006). Yet, 77 million children of primary school-age, are not in school and 57 percent of them are girls. Despite overall advances in primary enrolment, significant gender disparities remain particularly in certain regions, notably the Arab States, South and West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond the primary level, the gender inequalities in education are even more significant. In secondary education, only one-third of countries have reached gender parity and women account for 64 percent of the world’s illiterate adults – a figure, which has not progressed during the last decade (UNESCO, 2007). Girls’ education is affected by a variety of factors relating both to the demand and supply side of schooling: gender-stereotyped curricula and teaching practices, school infrastructure not adapted to the needs of girls (lack of separate toilets, school fencing, girls boarding facilities, etc.) risks for girls’ safety on the way to and at school (girls being abducted, at risk of rape at school) or negative socio-cultural practices (early marriage, low value given to education of girls). One of the most significant obstacles to girls’ education is the direct and opportunity cost of schooling, which affects girls disproportionately. Girls from poor households register very low levels of school completion in many countries (Bruns, Mingat, and Rakotomalala 2003). In India, for example, a study found that, amongst poor girls, less than 10 percent had completed elementary education (grade 8), compared to 85 percent of rich boys (15-19 years age group). Educational attainment of girls was consistently lower than for boys across all income groups (Filmer 1999). Research from Guinea concluded that "Family income or wealth is a key variable that explains differences in educational opportunities and attainment between families. … Poverty in a family will have a more detrimental effect upon the decision to enrol a girl in school than boys (Tembon and Al-Samarrai 1997). This is linked to the fact that girls spend a significant amount of their time on work, particularly domestic chores and agricultural labour. Their 'child work benefit' for parents, and thus the opportunity costs of their schooling, are thus greater than for boys. A survey in northern India found that girls' responsibility for domestic labour and for sibling care was by far the most important reason for not sending them to school or for their dropping out (The PROBE team 1999). A study from Bangladesh came to the following conclusion: "Normally, a rural Bangladeshi woman works 10-14 hours a day, though most of this work is not visible or reflected in national statistics. … The need to perform domestic chores to help their mothers impedes girls' participation in formal education, forcing them into irregular attendance and/or to leave school” (UNESCO 1998). In addition, there is evidence that direct educational costs are higher for girls than for boys, for example because girls need safe transport to school or better school clothing to “look decent” (Herz and Sperling 2004). Where women and girls have low societal status, poor parents are often more reluctant to invest their meagre resources into the education of girls rather than that of their sons. Food for Education (FFE) programmes - school feeding (school meals or snacks) and,...
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