A Residential Hostel for Female Christian Students in Pakistan
Project Code: 328-07-19
In Pakistan, obtaining education is still a major problem, with roughly 50% of the country’s nearly 190 million inhabitants still unable to read or write. In Christian families especially, most of whom belong to the poorest levels of society, children very often have to go out to work in order to help their parents survive such extreme poverty. Christian children are often discriminated against and disadvantaged in the state-run schools and face many obstacles in trying to gain admission to higher education.
Archbishop Joseph Coutts, the chairman of the Pakistani Catholic Bishops' Conference, explains, "In certain subjects, where a given average mark or score is required, Muslim students can gain extra points by attending instruction in the Koran, with the result that they can then gain admittance to university. Christians, of course, do not have this opportunity. AChristian name is often enough to ensure that a candidate is refused entry to a course of studies. In the state schools, Christian pupils are often insulted, unfairly treated or pressured to convert to Islam by their teachers."
Illiteracy is particularly high among girls. This fact was highlighted recently in the West by the case of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for the education of girls and who was a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize as a result. In recent years, in northwest Pakistan in particular, Islamic extremists have destroyed dozens of schools, targeting girls' schools in particular.
The Catholic Church runs many schools in Pakistan. In the Diocese of Faisalabad alone, the Church maintains 82 schools. And Catholic women religious are in the forefront of the drive to provide education to girls. In the village of Chak 6/4-L (many villages in Pakistan are known only by numbers), the Sisters of the Holy Family already maintain a residential home for 45 girls whose families live in the remote desert regions and who would otherwise have no opportunity to attend school. For even where schools do exist, they are often so far away that the girls would have to walk for miles, which is something extremely dangerous, above all for Christian girls in Pakistan. Again and again there have been cases of rape and abduction.
Now the Holy Family Sisters would like to build another hostel, for female students who wish to pursue their studies beyond Year 10 and take their higher secondary level (A Level) exams. Many of these girls are extremely gifted and the Sisters would like to give them the chance to continue at school and take their higher exams. A number of these young girls are also hoping to becoming religious themselves after completing their schooling.
Consequently, assisting them in their education is also an investment in the future of the Church in Pakistan, a future in which the women religious will always play a vital role. In this society, where there is such strict segregation between the roles of men and women, their work is of incalculable value, above all for women and children. Such well educated and soundly formed religious Sisters can provide excellent role models for young girls and women and help them to discover a sense of their own dignity and of the value of a good education, thereby opening up new avenues for them in the future.
ACN has promised a contribution of $9,400 towards the cost of this project. Will you help build this hostel for female Christian students in Pakistan?
to Projects in Need