The government has launched a government-linked university degree course in Pakistan’s northern Punjab province.
The course is aimed at offering women the chance to take up the more difficult and expensive courses in government, with the emphasis on business administration and management.
The programme is being launched as part of the government’s “Make Women’s Work Harder” drive, which aims to create jobs for women and improve the economy.
The government has also announced the creation of a national institute of business management, and it has launched three other government-run vocational and technical education institutions.
The government also announced plans to provide scholarships for female entrepreneurs to further their business development.
However, the programme has faced criticism from the opposition.
“The government should have been able to create a government college for all women, and have it run on the model of the British and Indian colleges,” Haseeb Khan, the deputy secretary general of the Pakistan Bar Association, told Al Jazeera.
“Instead, it is creating a government education course to help only the rich.”
Women have traditionally been barred from participating in formal government courses, with only male teachers providing instruction to students.
In 2017, President Asif Ali Zardari made a controversial announcement that all female government officials would have to go through government-sanctioned training programmes, but this has not been implemented.
According to Khan, there is also no government-recognised school for women in Pakistan, and women are also barred from attending any official government meetings.
In a statement on Wednesday, the education ministry said it was looking into ways to improve the situation, and that it had invited all stakeholders to discuss this issue.
The ministry said the government had launched a special committee to look into the issue and had set up a panel to provide advice on the issue.
“As the committee is a part of our government, it will have the role of advising on the implementation of the programme,” a spokesperson told Aljazeera.
“The committee will submit its report to the government in two months.”
The government launched a similar government-led university in Lahore in 2008, which was also largely funded by the government.
However, the university did not have a government school component.