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Girls Stipend Program in Pakistan

Pakistan: Girl’s Stipend Program in Punjab
Pakistan: Girl’s Stipend Program in Punjab
IDA and Girls’ Education in South Asia

In the early 1990s, the government of Bangladesh formulated its policy for enhancing girls’ access to secondary education.

The Bangladesh Female Secondary School Assistance Program, financed by IDA, supported a government program to improve access to secondary education for girls by providing tuition stipends. A key innovation was transfer of stipends directly from banks to individual girls’ bank accounts. It improved the quality of schools through teacher training, provision of performance incentives to schools and students, and water and sanitation facilities. The project covered 119 of Bangladesh’s 480 sub-districts.

The program has proven ground-breaking in addressing girls’ access to education, and is recognized worldwide as a pioneering undertaking. A number of other countries, learning from Bangladesh experience, have implemented similar stipend or conditional cash transfer programs with World Bank support.

- IDA in Afghanistan: Expanding Access to Education

Success inspires Success: Girls' Stipend Program in Pakistan

In Pakistan, it is estimated that only 57 percent of girls and women can read and write and in rural areas only 22 percent of girls have completed primary level schooling as compared to 47 percent of boys.

In 2003, the Punjab government with assistance from the World Bank implemented the “Girls' Stipend Program” which provided cash stipend of Rs. 200 to families to ensure their daughters attend school. As a result girls’ enrollment in secondary schools in the 15 poorest districts in Punjab increased by 60 percent from 175,000 to 280,000 since 2003. This project was extended to include high school girls as well.

“Girls are less able than boys to take public transportation or walk to school in Pakistan’s social context, and the cost of private transport – roughly equivalent to the 200 Rupees stipend - was the binding constraint for poor families” said Khalid Gillani, Secretary of Education in Punjab Province.

Another example is Pakistan’s national Bait –Ul-Mal program which was started after the 2005 earthquake. This program extended food support for poor households on the basis of conditional cash transfers. A pilot child support program is currently being developed aiming at increasing enrollment of these poor households at the primary level.

In Punjab province, the Bait-Ul-Mal along with the Punjab Government’s education program has shown impressive results. At a school in Kasur district, 90 9th graders are elbow to elbow on the floor in a roughly 20 by 15 foot classroom. As girls going to school increased significantly, the program is now facing new challenges in hiring more teachers, building new schools, and ensuring that the quality of service is maintained.

The Pakistan government is currently drafting, “National Strategy on Social Protection” which according to Zobaida Jalal, Federal Minister for Social Welfare and Special Education, “… is to direct support to the ten percent most vulnerable households through Girls Stipend programs for education, health and livelihoods.”

In order to sustain the success of this program, the Punjab government is undertaking reforms aimed at improving education quality through better governance and accountability.

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