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 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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Over the next five years, our work in Pakistan will focus on the outcome areas of quality education and girls' empowerment. We aim to reach 212,000 children and youth, 1,292 teachers, and 617 coaches by 2025.

We are working to:

  • Ensure more children can access inclusive and quality education, especially girls
  • Reach more children in new geographical areas
  • Establish our leadership in programming and improving quality physical education and sports and play for development
  • Strengthen partnerships with government and other stakeholders to achieve sustainable impact at scale

The challenges faced by children in Pakistan

Pakistan has been successful in reducing overall levels of poverty, lowering infant and under-five mortality, and increasing primary school enrollment. However, the country is ranked 161 out of 191 countries and territories on the Human Development Index. With one of the lowest rates of investment in education, Pakistan is second on the global ranking list of out-of-school children. Socio-cultural barriers reduce demand for education, and combined with supply-related issues, such as trained teachers and resources, hamper access and retention. Physical education, an integral and critical part of general education, is almost non-existent in most Pakistani schools.

Girls also face specific barriers to accessing quality education. They 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, which creates additional pressures on them to drop out. 27% of primary school-aged girls are out of school compared to 19% of boys.

The barriers to education faced by all children have been exacerbated by the floods that devastated the country in September 2022. More than 18,000 schools were fully or partially destroyed, with Sindh, the hardest hit province, counting almost 16,000 schools destroyed.

This is how Mehboob, a Right To Play-trained coach, used games to help children cope with an unimaginable disaster.

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Promoting girls' rights to education and challenging gender norms

Right To Play empowers girls by organizing Child Rights Clubs and Junior Leader Clubs where children develop essential life skills like 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. Right To Play champions girls' empowerment by creating awareness of gender-based violence (GBV), helping boys to develop positive concepts of masculinity, giving girls and young women a chance to learn about menstrual hygiene management and financial literacy, and promoting teaching practices that challenge the acceptability of GBV and foster gender-equitable norms.

The 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 have graduated from the GOAL program since 2016, and 600 girls have graduated from a supplementary module that promotes their employability and entrepreneurship.

Right To Play is 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 skills, and life skills.

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

This is the story of how Madiha used sport to gain the confidence to pursue a higher education, and now leads other girls to do the same.

“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.

Right To Play's approach improves access to safe, gender-sensitive, and positive learning environments in formal and non-formal educational settings. We also increase access of out-of-school children to safe and inclusive non-formal learning spaces.

We also improve learning environments through physical improvements to play spaces and by strengthening child protection systems in schools. And we support 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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Stay connected to children in Pakistan

Right To Play implements a robust partnership approach, working closely with key government institutions, local officials, civil society organizations and networks, communities, teachers, parents, and children themselves. Partnership and collaboration are at the forefront of our current programming strategy and will continue during the 2021-25 strategic plan implementation, contributing to program scale-up, impact, influence, and sustainability.

Right To Play programs in Pakistan are also supported by the School Education and Literacy Department (SELD) Sindh, Elementary and Secondary Education Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ACTED International, Federal Directorate of Education- Islamabad, Indus Resource Centre (IRC), Citizen Foundation, Aga Khan University, and supporters like you.

Contact our Pakistan office
Plot 3-D, Ground Floor, 3rd Road, near Shifa Hospital
Sector G-10/4, Islamabad, Pakistan
Phone: +92 051 235 1872