Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world with a rising illiteracy rate. In a country where 60 percent of youth are illiterate and only 1 in 3 women can read and write, HOPE has been working hard to reverse this trend. HOPE has implemented an innovative solution to helping girls in Pakistan's rural and remote areas such as Kashmir - HOPE home schools - whereby girls who ordinarily face multiple obstacles to obtaining an education are becoming teachers and role models in the community.
In the mountainous areas of Kashmir, it is costly and impractical to construct large school buildings. Even if government schools exist, distances are so great that children must travel by foot across rough terrain to reach them. Many parents therefore do not send their children to school, or attendance is irregular. Girls especially suffer due to the safety issue of traveling by foot in mountains through unpredictable weather and a volatile political climate where violence is easily provoked.
HOPE has found that the most effective and sustainable long-term solution for education in Kashmir is the home school system. Home schools are a cost-effective and innovative solution to addressing the availability of schools barrier that has been overlooked in Pakistan. Home schools engage the communities they serve by employing educated women (whom parents trust) as teachers. Currently, HOPE has 35 home schools in Kashmir serving 1,810 students, mostly impoverished girls.
According to the International Labor Organization, "From a developmental perspective, investing in girls' education has the highest rate of return of any possible investment in developing countries." Pakistan is at a ripe stage to welcome the empowerment of women and girls. Educating girls would have far reaching impact in a country where 30 percent of people live below the poverty line, malnutrition and diseases are widespread, and basic human rights are still not guaranteed to every citizen.