Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan, covering around 45% of the country and it has a population of 7.5 million people. It is also one of the least developed regions of the country with a literacy rate of around 27%. Gender discrimination exists too. The number of boys attending school is low at 50% but only 5% of girls in the region have the opportunity to attend school. This situation results in a very low level of female literacy in the region and very poor living conditions for families. Scouting is strong in Balochistan and the number of Scouts has risen from 30,000 in 1996 to 70,000 in 2004. Boy scouts, who are in the adolescent age-range, receive training on importance of education, child rights, data collection and interpersonal communication skills.
Despite progress in recent years, girls continue to suffer severe disadvantage and exclusion in education systems throughout their lives. An estimated 31 million girls of primary school age and 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2013. Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest proportion of countries with gender parity: only two out of 35 countries. And South and West Asia has the widest gender gap in its out-of-school population – 80 per cent of its out-of-school girls are unlikely to ever start school compared to 16 per cent of its out-of-school boys. Furthermore, many countries will still not have reached gender parity. On current trends, it is projected that 69 per cent of countries will have achieved parity in primary education, and 48 per cent of countries will have achieved parity in lower secondary education by the 2015 deadline.
Girls’ education is both an intrinsic right and a critical lever to reaching other development objectives. Providing girls with an education helps break the cycle of poverty: educated women are less likely to marry early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and are more likely to send their children to school. When all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come.
Girls’ education is essential to the achievement of quality learning relevant to the 21st century, including girls’ transition to and performance in secondary school and beyond. Adolescent girls that attend school delay marriage and childbearing, are less vulnerable to disease including HIV and AIDS, and acquire information and skills that lead to increased earning power. Evidence shows that the return to a year of secondary education for girls correlates to a 25 per cent increase in wages later in life.
Since boy scouts are present in almost every part of Balochistan whether they are in small or large number they are always ready to volunteer their services for any good cause. Therefore boy scouts are an excellent source of sending any message to the grass roots of the society. Keeping in view the above mentioned scenario boy scouts in the Province offered their services to UNICEF to act as Young Champion for increasing access of all children including Girls and the most vulnerable, to quality education in Balochistan.
After getting training as young champions, each Boy Scouts collected information of out-school children especially girls from their neighborhood and villages. These young champions also mobilized and motivated parents on importance of girl’s education and enrollment drive. Through a debate has been stimulated on gender discrimination within local communities fundamental issues relating to culture have been explored and attitudes and practices have begun to be change. Girl’s literacy rates have increased in the province as a result of the changes in attitudes and practices towards girls’ education. In addition it has been successful in getting more than 31,000 girls enrolled at the primary level.