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Households Discrimination in School Enrolment in Pakistan: Does gender matter?

  • 2018 | Volume: 2 | Issue: 1 | Page: 26-32


This study uses Pakistan Social and Living Measurement Survey 2016 to study gender discrimination in school enrollment across the four provinces of Pakistan using bi-variate analysis. Results show that there is highly significant difference between male and female education in rural areas (x^2=4940.50 and p<0.05). Analysis indicate that gender disparity in enrollment is significantly higher in low income households (x^2=115.468 and P<0.05). The study also showed that as compared to male, fewer female are enrolled in both public and private sectors. Hence, socio-economic factors play important role in making decision about children enrollment in different types of school. The study recommends that government to take appropriate steps to reduce gender discrimination in school enrollment by offering subsidy on female education in the country.

Keywords and JEL Classification


Gender discrimination; Enrolment; Socio-Economic Factors; Enrolment; Gender

JEL Classification

J10; J18; J19

1. Introduction

   Knowledge, skills and improvements in personality, attitudes, talents and behaviours are the outcome of education. UNDP (1990) considers it as a critical factor while evaluating a society’s development (UNDP, 1990). In today’s modern era, human capital is considered the best national resource for a country. On one hand, educated people can access better opportunities for livelihoods while at the same time their creative work can benefit the entire nation (Tripathi et al., 2014). Education is one of the basic and essential rights of a person and its access should not be discriminated on gender, race, language or religion. The right to educate is common in all the religions and cultures. Unfortunately, in South Asia, access to education is discriminated based on gender, financial status, marital status and other socio-economic factors and Pakistan is no exception (Faizi & Butt, 2017). Such discrimination negatively affects the development process of a country.  

Genders shall not be discriminated in the provision of opportunities to get their real potential unleashed. Many other studies have also highlighted the significance of male and female education in economic development of a country (Afzal et al., 2013). All these research studies emphasized and documented the significance of education without any disparity based on gender, region or nation for socio-economic growth and development that remains slow in Asia. As compared to other countries, literacy rate is not only very low but highly unequal among males and females in Pakistan. According to economic survey of Pakistan, literacy rate has declined from 60 percent to 58 percent with literacy rate of 70 percent in males and 48 percent in females. Pakistan has been ranked the second worst country in the world for gender inequality. According, to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Pakistan ranks 143 out of 144 countries in the gender inequality index, way behind Bangladesh and India which rank 72nd and 87th respectively in 2016. This gape is the focus of this study in the case of education.  

Irfan (2016) states that in Pakistan sisters as compared to their brothers are less likely to attend primary education. In some cases, where children are sent to school, it is commonly seen that parents decide to invest in their sons’ education rather than their daughters. This may reflect the fact that upon marriage, daughters may no longer contribute to family income and are therefore not seen as worth investing. Consequently, girls’ otherwise intelligent and capable are deprived of education. This also limits their role in the development of the society.  

Studies that have investigated gender discrimination in education also indicated that such discrimination limits countries’ potential to develop and prosper. Several factors could affect households’ discrimination of gender in school enrolment. These factors may include education level of the household head, poverty status of household, age, gender of household head and a host of other factors. These factors enhance our understanding of the links between a social phenomenon and gender description in school enrolment. This study is an attempt to analyse the socio-economic factors that lead to the gender gap in the enrolment. Moreover, objective of this study is to know about the status of children distribution as per their socio-economic status and to highlight the factors that lead to gender gap in school enrolment across the provinces of Pakistan. The findings of the study might be helpful for parents, researchers, policy makers and the government. Results can be used in the development of policies for reducing gender discrimination in school enrolment among school going children. The findings of the study are also helpful for recognizing the worth and contribution of female education for economic development of the country.

2. Literature Review

   Zarar et al. (2017) examined the causes and effects of gender discrimination against women in Quetta by using primary data. The study concluded that literacy is directly linked with the willingness of the parents/guardians towards education attainment. The study further stated that majority of the girls do not give any monetary incentives as they get married in the early age while boys are required to have more education as compared to girls and the reason is the earnings. The study also highlighted certain other religious factors which hinder female education in the society. Another study conducted by Luqman et al. (2017) analysed the factors contributing to gender disparity in education in rural areas of the Punjab province in Pakistan. The main data were collected from three hundred household heads and from their spouses through specific individual interviews to find the actual difference in view of the male and female respondents. The collected data was analysed using SPSS and applied t-test method to find out the difference in responses of male and female participants. In order to determine the difference in intensity of factors in three districts, F-test was applied. The analysed results confirmed that there is highly significant difference between age of male family heads and their spouses (wives) (χ=50.121 and P <0.05). Cross tabulation suggested that educational status of wives was low as compared to their husbands. Analyses showed that a few socio-economic factors are the existing gender discrepancy with reference to education in the study areas. The researcher determined low income, high educational expenditures, low educational level of parents (especially the mother), and security concerns of parents regarding sexual harassment as the major factors impeding female education. The study recommended that the Government at the national level should take serious steps to creating conducive environment to increase female enrolment rate in rural localities. Another study held in Punjab province by Afzal et al. (2013) analysed the gender disparity in schools. They showed that parents differently treat male and female education. This disparity is high in rural as compared to urban areas. Shayan (2015) also studied disparity in females and males education access. He showed that women participation in education is less than men and it further decreases in the higher education. The fear of terrorist attack and kidnaping by Taliban has also reduced women participation in certain areas. Moreover, the study identified that the most basic problem of women is the very paternal structure of the society and discrimination originate from extreme religious beliefs and traditions.   

Shaukat et al. (2014) analyse the discrimination practices in the higher institutions of Pakistan focusing on the variables such as Decision making, professional development, utilization of resources, academic affairs and job satisfaction. The study used the T-Test and ANOVA test for analysing the data. The study concluded that gender differences is only in decision making and academic affair and less discrimination is observed in higher positions than in lower positions. Qureshi (2012) examined the gender differences in school enrolment and return to education in Pakistan by using primary data. The study suggested that there is under investment in female education and return to education’s are much higher for female than male. It is found that private rate of return to time spent in school is higher than labour market for a female but return that goes to parents are lower for female than sons because parents are dependent on son at old age support. The study also concluded that mother roles are more significant and more impassive than father in term of magnitude of all level of female education. Khan et al. (2013) states that female feel more secure after getting education and association between female education in urban areas is higher than rural areas while White et al. (2016) believes in supportive attitude of parents can help in female education. Other studies such as Mian et al. (2016), Ara and Malik (2012), Cooray and Potrafke (2010) and Chaudhry and Rahman (2009) investigated the impact of gender inequality in education and reached to conclusion the gender discrimination affects the education attainment. The next section discusses the data and analytical tool used in the analysis.

3. Research Methods

4. Results & Discussion

5. Conclusion

   The study concludes that a highly significant age difference exists between male and female education in rural areas. Similar trend is found in educational enrollment of male and female. Educational enrolment of female is low as compared to male children. Analysis showed that several socio-economic factors are responsible for existing gender disparity with reference to education. Gender disparity is found to be the maximum for lowest income group. It is high in Baluchistan, followed by KP, Sindh and Punjab. The findings suggest that the root cause of the gender discrimination are the socio-economic factors that directly as well as indirectly affect the education attainment. As Pakistan is a developing country and majority of the population live in rural areas living standards of the population is not up to the mark. Income plays a great role in the attainment of education and other facilities. Furthermore, gender discrimination specifically with women can be reduced by giving more opportunities them in the shape of women quotas and subsidized which will eventually lead to the reeducation in gender gap enrollment. Awareness campaigns about the importance of women education in the society, increasing the educational funds, and scholarships, could be other steps to enhance female enrollment and improve the facilities and infrastructure of the institutions.


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Mian, R., Rehman, M., & Rehman, C. A. (2006). Gender Discrimination at Work Place: A Case Study on Education Sector of Pakistan. International Journal of Management Sciences and Business Research, 5(12): 104-113.

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Tripathi, S. (2014). Importance of Education. Retrieved from IMPORTANTINDIA: https://www.importantindia.com/10509/importance-of-education/

White, G., Ruther, M., & Kahn, J. (2016). Educational Inequality in India: An Analysis of Gender Differences in Reading and Mathematics. In IHDS Working Paper 2016-2.

Khan, H., Ali, A., Khan, P. R., & Zia, D. A. (2013). Social Constraints to Femlale Higher Education in Pakhtoon Society. European Journal of Business and Social Sciences, 2(4): 25-31.

Zarar, R., Moula Bukhsh, M., & Khaskheli, W. (2017). Causes and Consequences of Gender Discrimination against Women in Quetta City. Arts And Social Sciences Journal, 08(03). UNDP. (1990). Human Development Report. New York: for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

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