Perspectives of the dropped-out children on their dropping out from public secondary schools in rural Pakistan

The world can only meet prescribed educational targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if all boys and girls complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education by 2030. However, the problem of dropping out from school is a barrier to such goals in poor and developing countries. In Pakistan, in total, 73% of children aged 5-16 (classes 1 to 10) drop out before reaching the final grade of secondary school. It is important to listen to the personal stories of dropped out children in order to design better and more effective policy responses. In this study, 18 secondary school dropped-out boys were interviewed in order to explore the social and cultural contexts around their dropping out and the competing economic, social and family demands placed on them. The findings show that a range of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors, that operate at individual, family and structural levels – and that at times intersect or combine – influence children’s willingness and ability to attend school.