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Women’s education

Editorial…

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said that no society can progress and prosper unless it gives equal educational opportunities to the women. Educated and enlightened women can change the fate of a society. These days, the under-developed countries are faced with various hardships, prominent among them being the low literacy rate. No country plagued with illiteracy can ever reach the goal of progress and prosperity. The Prime Minister expressed these views while addressing the 4th Convocation of the Fatima Jinnah Women University at the Jinnah Convention Centre, Islamabad on Saturday. He stressed upon the need for providing equal educational facilities to both men and women and said that it is important to provide women with such an environment wherein they could work with confidence. Observing that the women comprised half of the country’s population, he said that much attention would have to be focussed on their education. He also favoured the establishment of separate educational institutions for women and said he did not agree with those who were opposed to this idea.

Spread of knowledge and promotion of literacy are the important elements for setting up a society as without these, a sense of rights and obligations cannot be inculcated nor can there be a respect for rules and regulations. Without the light of education, there can be no concept of creation of an enlightened, progressive society and there can be no promotion of values of moderation and modesty. The importance of education in our religion, Islam, can be gauged from the fact that the very first ‘Wahi’ called upon Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to read.

The present government, for the creation of a modern and moderate society, has earmarked eradication of illiteracy and promotion of education as its utmost priorities. Thereby, the National Economic Council for the next fiscal year has allocated Rs 9.20 billion for higher education from Rs 202 billion, which is an increase of 84 percent. It is during the tenure of the present government that the first women university was set up in the province of Balochistan. The Government Girls College in Lahore was upgraded to the status of university. The commitment of the government to the task of promoting education is also evident from the various policy decisions that have been taken – such as setting up of new schools, colleges and universities, and increase in the number of seats. President Musharraf, for the first time in the history of the country, addressed a convention of students from all the universities, held in Islamabad last May. His revelation that 59 universities have been hooked up with the Internet is an indication of government’s performance with regard to promotion of education.

Some of the reasons responsible for the educational backwardness of women have nothing to do with religion and have no place in the constitution. Lack of proper religious knowledge, certain social prejudices against women, violation of their rights and their deliberate ouster from inheritance, family norms and customs in backward areas and a strong feudal system are prominent among them. Unfortunately even today, in many areas of Pakistan, social customs and tribal traditions are given precedence over Islamic teachings and the process of keeping women away from education and denying them their rights continues. The different kinds of social and religious prejudices and also crimes against women prevalent in the society can only be brought down through promotion of education and with an increase in women’s literacy rate and also through provision of greater educational facilities. Only when they are educated that women can, in addition to protecting their rights in a better way, play a vital role in the creation of a progressive, moderate society. Thus the need of the hour is to focus concertedly on women education so that a prosperous, progressive and moderate society comes into being.

The PM’s support for the establishment of separate educational institutions for women has much weight. There is no justification for opposing such a move in the name of modernity and to please the West. This would lessen the inferiority complex in women with regard to certain traditional and social prejudices and would also make possible their eradication. It would also create in them the sense of protecting their social and constitutional rights, enabling them to contribute in all walks of life with confidence and self-belief.

Source: The News

Date:10/25/2004

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