Think Critically about Education for All

This activity has been designed to help young people think critically about the topic of education for all.


This activity requires young people to view the animated film Dunya Aur Larki (The World and the Girl), produced to support a girls education campaign in Pakistan. Young people identify the barriers faced by girls and boys accessing school in Pakistan, review basic data about education in Pakistan and suggest how all children in Pakistan may receive a quality education.

In 2014 Pakistan was one of three countries – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan – where 21 million of the world’s 58 million out-of-school children lived.

Learning Objectives
  • Identify the barriers facing children attending school in Pakistan and differentiate between the barriers faced by girls and by boys.
  • Assess the impact of these barriers in the context of basic education data from Pakistan.
  • Write a report or make a presentation prioritising the actions needed to improve access to education in Pakistan.
  • Dunya Aur Larki (The World and the Girl) (film, 4’08’’):
  • Pakistan Education Statistics Activity Sheet.
Key Words

Education, Gender Inequality, Conflict, Natural Disasters, ‘Eve-Teasing’, School Facilities, Education Budget, Inequality, Fragile State.

‘Eve-teasing’: “the making of unwanted sexual remarks or advances by a man to a woman in a public place.” (South Asia)1.

Fragile state: ‘A fragile state is a low-income country characterized by weak state capacity and/or weak state legitimacy leaving citizens vulnerable to a range of shocks’2.

Teachers notes

Pakistan faces severe challenges in providing every one of its children with an education. Recent statistics suggest that 7.3 million, or one in three, of Pakistan’s children do not go to school.

  1. Begin by watching the animated film Dunya Aur Larki (The World and the Girl, 4’ 08”). Ask the young people to identify and list all the barriers they can identify facing the girl as she seeks a school place.
    Young people may describe these barriers in different terms but the list should include:
    • Gender stereotyping of girls, originating from male elders but initially implemented by the mother.
    • Girls being kept at home and given chores. Social confinement.
    • Long distances from home to school.
    • Lack of access to public transport, particularly for poor families.
    • Violence and conflict destroy schools, a fragile state.
    • Natural disasters (flooding) destroy schools.
    • ‘Eve-teasing’ (sexual harassment) in the street.
    • Schools lack classrooms and facilities, poor school infrastructure.
    • Teachers lack equipment, poor school infrastructure.
    • Schools lack water and sanitation, poor school infrastructure.
    • The national education budget is low compared with spending on other budgets.
    • Inequality, government spending favours rich males.
  2. Ask the young people to feed back their ideas and then divide their list into two groups:
    • Barriers to education that affect girls.
    • Barriers to education that affect both girls and boys.

    Discuss the young people’s ideas. Their responses may be quite nuanced and try to draw out these subtleties in the discussion. For example, the gender stereotyping of girls exclusively affects girls. In comparison a lack of water and sanitation in schools may disproportionately affect girls because of menstruation, but it also affects boys to some extent. However, a teacher without equipment affects both boys and girls more or less equally.

  3. Examine the Pakistan Education Statistics Activity Sheet. Discuss the extent to which the content of the film is supported by or reflected in the statistics. Can the statistics be used to back up any issues raised by the film or vice-versa? Match the relevant statistics to the young people’s lists.
  4. The young people should then write a short report or make a presentation to explain their priorities for how access to education in Pakistan could be improved. This should concentrate on no more than five priorities and may differentiate between the roles of Pakistan’s government, Pakistan’s civil society and Pakistan’s donors.
    Has overall responsibility for what happens within the national borders: collects taxes, decides government spending, invests in public services such as building schools and training teachers, implements the law.
    However, violence and conflict reduce the effectiveness of Pakistan’s government. It is frequently referred to as a ‘fragile state.’
    Pakistan’s civil
    Citizens acting together to make a difference: grassroots campaigns for better education, campaigning for girls’ and women’s rights, community support for schools and teachers (PTAs, fundraising, supplementary classes etc).
    Pakistan’s donors Rich countries with aid programmes: provide additional funds to the Ministry of Education, provide funding to NGOs with education programmes, target specific groups for help – e.g. girls, rural children.
    The issue of the role of donors and international development aid may arise. In Pakistan’s case this is a difficult and complex question. Pakistan, and many other countries, invest well below the UN target of 6% of GDP in education. According to the target, these countries can afford to spend a much larger slice of their national incomes on education but decide not to. Therefore, should donors step in under these circumstances and provide aid for education? The precise answer to this question may rest on a range of factors outside this resource and related to the fragility of the Pakistani state, but the general question is worth discussing.

    Young people should discuss their reports and presentations.

    • To what extent do they agree on what the priorities should be?
    • How complex is the challenge of providing education for all?
    • Is education for all merely about spending more money on schools, or does success also rest on wider social change?
    • How does change happen?
  5. Plenary discussion
    Do the young people think there is any reason why the film is called The World and the Girl? For example, it could have been called School and the Girl. Does the title tell young people anything about the barriers to education and how to overcome them? Points to discuss:
    • There are social barriers to education – e.g. attitudes to girls’ rights, sexual harassment, boys education being prioritised. The barriers to education go beyond a lack of classrooms and teachers.
    • The political environment is also hostile – conflict, violence, insecurity. How do ‘fragile states’ provide education for all?
    • Overcoming barriers is therefore about more than providing school places, textbooks and teachers. It requires bigger social and political changes.

Pakistan education statistics

Pakistan education statistics
Total population: 196 million
Number of children out of primary school: 7.3 million (one in three)
% of children in primary school: 66%
Ratio of boys to girls in school: 87%
Number of students per teacher: 41
Public spending of education: 2% of GDB (the UN target is 6%)
Primary school completion rate: 67%
Secondary school enrolment: 37%