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Refugee Schools Curriculum- who gets to decide?

Pakistan has approximately 3 million Afghan refugee population of which 1.3 million are registered (EUAA). These refugees include children of school-going age who lack access to public education due to a number of factors. It should be noted that 22.8 million Pakistani children are out of school which makes Pakistan the country having the second-highest out-of-school population in the world. In light of this context, the refugees’ access to education is even more limited.

They cannot enroll in schools as they do not have registration or documentation in some cases even 3rd generation Afghans living in Pakistan, and still don’t have documentation and thus can’t access public education. Of the registered population, only 18% of the girls are in school and 34% are boys. Almost 80% of the total population of refugee kids are out of school. Lack of documentation as well as the socioeconomic pressures that children face as refugees force them to stay out of school.

The curriculum taught in Afghan refugee schools also need to be designed in a way that meets the need of the population. The children in refugee schools funded by UNHCR used to study an UN-developed Afghan curriculum but after it was deemed anti-Pakistan by the state the schools started teaching the Pakistani curriculum in schools. This could potentially increase access to higher education for Afghan students.

As repatriation remains the major policy of the Pakistani government towards the Afghan people then the curriculum being taught to the kids is quite inadequate as they move to back to their countries. The schools also do not provide adequate knowledge of the conflict to the students and there is no engagement with the ongoing conflict as the parties involved in the conflict are the ones planning the curriculum. The state of the schools and the student-teacher ratio in the refugee schools are also very high. The low enrolment of girls can be overcome to some extent by having girl-only schools but that has not been possible due to an extreme lack of resources.

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