At PAGE we believe that we can truly empower our girls through education. Unfortunately, 13 million girls under the age of 16 are out of school in Pakistan. The COVID 19 pandemic has worsened the situation forcing many more girls from underprivileged backgrounds to drop out of education permanently. Given the scale of the problem and lack of data, it may take us years to measure the true impact of the pandemic on girls’ education in Pakistan.
In May 2019, Star School, Badia Qadir Bakhsh, Islamabad was set up in partnership with the Federal Directorate of Education, to help the girls living in the community access safe and free education and to provide them an opportunity to change their lives and the lives of their families. In the school, we run a special program in the afternoon to help and support 38 girls who had never been to school before. Most girls in the school between the age of 10 – 13 also support their mothers as domestic helpers. Some girls come from backgrounds where education for girls is prohibited. However, through our efforts, we have successfully engaged their families so these girls can study in a girls’ only environment. The school teacher Madiha is a dedicated teacher, making continuous efforts to support her students.
These are difficult times for girls and their families. Many of the families are daily wagers and have been the worse affected due to pandemic. To support the girls, PAGE has set up Feed a Paratha – a school feeding program to provide nutritious breakfast to girls. For this, a local lady has been engaged to cook parathas every morning. Feed a paratha has multiple benefits. It improves the nutrition of the students, taking pressure off families who are unable to provide even one meal a day to their children, giving children a positive start every day, and also provide financial independence to local women who are engaged as foodpreneur.