Currently, there are an estimated 23 million children in Pakistan unable to attend school, the second highest figure in the world.1 Many of these children are refugees whose families have fled to Pakistan to escape armed conflict in Afghanistan. However, climate change poses another threat: in 2022, Pakistan experienced some of its deadliest floods in years.
The crisis in Pakistan
23 million children are unable to attend school.
30,389 schools are estimated to have been damaged or destroyed by the 2022 floods.
5,492 schools were used to accommodate displaced people.
The education sector has been severely impacted by the recent flood and rain emergency in Pakistan, in terms of destruction and damages to schools, disruption of schooling, and psychosocial stress experienced by children, adolescents, and teachers.
Data from provincial Education Departments and VSO needs assessment show that at least 30,389 schools have been damaged/destroyed due to the flood: 19,808 schools in Sindh, 7,439 in Balochistan, and 2,096 in Punjab. Additionally, at least 5,492 schools were being used to accommodate displaced people.
Our staff, volunteers and partners on the ground, alongside our donors FCDO, are mobilising in camps to ensure that access to education is still possible.
We have established transitional learning spaces (TSS) to support the education, protection, and psychosocial wellbeing of children.
When people experience this kind of devastation, they focus on immediate survival – finding shelter, accessing essential healthcare, and ensuring their families are fed. Girls’ education becomes a secondary concern and is also often neglected by humanitarian response planning.VSO Country Representative for Pakistan
How VSO supported flood-affected children return to school
After floods of 2022, VSO Pakistan has supported the provincial education departments to ensure provision of safe learning environments for all children, especially girls and children with disabilities. VSO has leveraged its prior knowledge and experience in the affected areas (particularly in Balochistan and Sindh) by engaging with national and international emergency management teams to ensure a well-planned education response in flood affected areas.
The Back to School Project was developed under the FCDO funded ACTIVE (Active Citizenship Through Inclusive Volunteering and Empowerment) project for providing education services for flood-affected children in Baluchistan (District Naseer Abad) and Sindh (District Dadu).
The project ensured access to education by establishing four climate-resilient structures with zero carbon footprints. These TSS also served as protection centres against future flooding.
Hear from the children and teachers who've been able to return to the classroom
What we've achieved so far
Our homes and schools got destroyed because of the floods. Thanks to VSO, we are going back to school again.
- Four transitional learning centres have been established.
- 236 children (105 girls and 131 boys) have been enrolled in the centres and provided with learning supplies.
- 358 children (139 girls and 219 boys) have attended awareness sessions in their schools and communities around safeguarding and child rights.
- 219 parents have attended awareness sessions in communities around safeguarding, child rights and gender-based violence (GBV).
- We've trained six school teachers,16 school management committees members and four education champions on GBV, providing psychosocial support, and safeguarding and protection mechanisms for children.
- We've developed Information Education Communication (IEC) material around child safeguarding.
Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) ACTIVE grant.
Right now, Pakistan is reeling from devastating floods which left a third of the country underwater. As the country grapples with the effects of a changing climate, it’s children who are being left behind.
Flooding in Pakistan is a stark reminder that the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, disproportionately affects the poorest societies. Community Emergency Response Teams are in the field providing emergency action.