Right To Play in Pakistan

Right To Play began working in Pakistan in 2008. In that time, we have implemented a wide range of play and sports-based development programs aimed at improving the quality of education, strengthening child protection, empowering young women and girls, and promoting social cohesion.

In 2018, the South African Medical Research Council and Aga Khan University conducted a randomized controlled trial in 40 public schools that found that Right To Play’s play-based approach held significant promise for reducing violence, promoting gender equality, and helping children to lead healthier lives. Notably, the trial found that peer violence against girls decreased by 59% in schools that were implementing Right To Play’s programs.

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The challenges faced by children in Pakistan

While Pakistan has been successful in reducing overall levels of poverty, lowering infant and under-five mortality, and increasing primary school enrollment, the country is ranked at a low 152 out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index. With one of the lowest rates of investment in education, Pakistan has the unfortunate distinction of being second on the global ranking of out-of-school children. Socio-cultural barriers reduce demand for education, and combine with supply-related issues, such as trained teachers and resources, to hamper access and retention. Physical education, an integral and critical part of general education, is almost non-existent in most Pakistani schools.

Girls are less likely than boys to access basic social services and have consistently lower development outcomes. Girls represent a higher proportion of out-of-school children aged 5 to 16, and are more likely to marry before the age of 18, creating additional pressures on them to drop out.

  • 31% of primary school-aged girls are out of school compared to 19% of boys
  • The primary school completion rate is 71% compared to a global average of 89.5%
  • Pakistan ranked only 154 of 183 countries on the most recent Youth Development Index
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Increasing the agency, inclusion, and decision-making of girls

Right To Play empowers girls by creating access and opportunity in sport and education, such as organizing Child Rights Clubs in schools where girls can engage in play-based activities that help them develop essential life-skills, such as communication, confidence, and resilience. With increased confidence, girls are better able to advocate for their rights and challenge harmful practices such as domestic violence, corporal punishment, and child marriage.

Our GOAL program supports adolescent girls from low-income communities to develop life skills, financial literacy, menstrual hygiene education, and overall empowerment. More than 15,000 adolescent girls graduated from the GOAL program since 2016, and 600 girls have graduated from a supplementary module that promotes their employability and entrepreneurship.

We are also working within a consortium of international NGOs on the Leave No Girl Behind initiative to address barriers to education and support out-of-school girls with accelerated learning programs, literacy and numeracy, and life skills.

Our work in Pakistan also involves tailoring play-based activities for boys, helping them to develop positive concepts of masculinity and break down traditional attitudes that discriminate against girls and women.

“Before the Right to Play intervention, girls were usually submissive and remained silent. Now, they dare to ask questions. It means the program improved their critical thinking.” — Teacher from a partner school

Improving the quality of education

Right To Play’s child-centered and inclusive approach to quality and gender-responsive education is designed for impact at three levels: at the level of the child, placing them at the center of the educational experience; at the level of the teacher, providing quality teacher training resources, professional development, and regular coaching and mentoring; and at the level of education stakeholders, working through partnerships and to provide technical support.

We enhance the quality of education by training teachers in rural and impoverished urban schools to use active, child-centered approaches to teach literacy, numeracy, and other curriculum content more effectively. Alongside enhanced teaching of curriculum content, they also use regular play and sports activities to help children develop essential physical, cognitive, emotional, and social skills.

We also improve learning environments through physical improvements to play spaces and by strengthening child protection systems in schools. And we support and coach children to take on Junior Leader roles so they can act as change agents and contribute to improving child participation, gender equality, and child protection in their schools.

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Using play to reduce violence against children

Right To Play works with teachers and community coaches to facilitate dialogue and collaboration between children through structured play and sport activities so that children learn to respect one another. We work to bring children from different sects and ethnicities together through play days and sporting events to learn life skills like empathy and tolerance, which counter prejudice and stereotypes. Children take these lessons back to their families, where they help to normalize the use of non-violent conflict resolution. The result is less bullying, less violence between children, and reduced domestic violence in their homes.

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Right To Play works closely with federal and provincial governments, local civil society organizations, and the private sector. In a successful partnership with the Sindh provincial government, Right To Play developed a new curriculum for physical education that will be rolled out in 38,000 government primary schools.

Right To Play programs in Pakistan are also supported by the UK Department for International Development, Standard Chartered, Women Win, UNICEF, Global Affairs Canada, Streetfootballworld, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, and supporters like you.