Struggling against the odds of poverty, access, and gender: Secondary schooling for girls in Pakistan

Type Journal Article - The Lahore Journal of Economics
Title Struggling against the odds of poverty, access, and gender: Secondary schooling for girls in Pakistan
Volume 18
Issue special edition
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Page numbers 67-93
While schooling outcomes for girls have improved over the period 2001–11,
progress has been uneven within Pakistan. Rural girls lag far behind urban girls
and progress across the provinces remains unequal. The transition to secondary
school—in some ways more critical for improving employability, reproductive
health, and other outcomes—shows even more disparate progress by province and
income class. Questions about the preference for public versus private schools and
the actual choice of schools available to girls in most rural areas need to be answered
if we are serious about a rapid escalation of secondary school enrollments for girls.
We use data from the Pakistan Integrated Household Survey for 2001/02
and the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLMS) for
2007/08 and 2010/11 to look at patterns in this transition. Access is likely to be the
main driving force behind the transition to secondary-level schooling. Initial findings
reflect the almost total reliance on public schools for 10–14-year-old girls. This
suggests that private secondary schools are not an option for girls in rural areas. The
next major intervening factor is household income level: even rich families appear to
favor public schools for girls. The data also suggest that girls from poor and large
families compete with their brothers and other siblings for limited resources.
Importantly, secondary school is only an option on completing primary
school and the choices are greater at the primary school level. We study the choice
of secondary school as conditioned on factors driving primary school completion.
Regional patterns reflect the expansion of private schools in Punjab and Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa (KP), less so in Sindh and Balochistan.

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