Earlier this month, the Goodwill Caravan team made its first visit to Pakistan. GWC has been assisting refugees since 2016, primarily in Greece, but we have also carried out work in the UK, Libya, Germany, and the Calais Jungle. We are very excited to report that we are expanding our work to Pakistan!
Our initial project will support the education needs of Afghan girls in a refugee camps near Islamabad through a partnership with Pakistan Alliance for Girls Education (PAGE), an organisation which promotes gender equity in education, employment, rights, and leadership. PAGE is dedicated to empowering Pakistani girls by collaborating with communities, governments, and partner organisations to provide access to sustained quality education and breaking down cultural barriers. We were very pleased to have a chance meet their team and visit several schools for forcibly displaced girls.
Pakistan faces significant challenges in providing quality education to its population, including having the second-highest number of out-of-school children in the world, with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school (UNICEF). Out of the 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees hosted by Pakistan, some 500,000 are school-age children. It is believed up to 80% percent of these children are currently unable to attend formal schooling, with enrolment among girls being significantly lower than among boys. This reasons for this are manifold and include socio-economic factors such as poverty, insufficient classroom areas, lack of curriculum, distances of schools, unfavourable operating environments for INGOs, conservative attitude towards female education, and a lack of girl-specific schools.
To address these challenges, Goodwill Caravan is working with PAGE to set up and support well-provisioned, secure schools for displaced Afghan girls. During our visit to the schools, GWC team members met with Afghan mothers, female guardians, and their children. We had conversations with them about the challenges they face, including the threat of becoming victims of human trafficking. The team emphasized that education is a basic human right and that access to it can provide opportunities, values, and access to equal opportunities.
GWC believes our expansion into Pakistan marks a new, exciting chapter in our global mission to support displaced populations and combat human trafficking. By working with PAGE and other organisations, GWC aims to create a society where every girl has access to quality education and can aspire to a secure future. Looking forward, we aim empower refugee communities in Pakistan with the information and skills needed to integrate and become fully functional members of society.