Impact of Migration on Education and Health: A Case Study of Karrianwala Village, District Gujrat, Pakistan


Sarfraz Khan

PhD defended at: 

Department of Anthropology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad Pakistan


The present research was focused primarily to understand the impact of migration on the education and health of families of migrant workers left behind in the village Karrianwala in District Gujrat, Pakistan. A survey from the 400 left behind families was conducted to study the impact of migration on the education and health of families. Qualitative methods like (a) participant observation, (b) key informants, (c) FGDs and (d) in-depth interviews were also used for the understanding of the issue.
More than 2000 migrant workers from the current village were working in various countries particularly in Europe, Middle-East and the United States of America (USA). The sample of 400 families was selected out of 1200 left behind families through purposive sampling and they were asked about the migration process, remittances, consumption patterns, education and health related spending issues. The migrant were regularly sending remittances to their families to meet the needs of their household, i.e. basic needs like household utilities, accessories, food, clothing, health and educational expenses. In addition to these expenses the migrant families were also spending part of the remittances on other activities such as purchase of residential plots, construction of large houses, agricultural land, business and arranging social gatherings, development activities, and in alms and charities. The data depicted a positive impact of remittances on the livelihoods of migrant families in the village.
The findings of the research supported NELM (New Economics of Labour Migration) model about the involvement of families in the decisions related to migration. These decisions were taken rationally while assessing the pros and cons of migration in advance. The role of social and kinship networks was very influential for the aspirants to go abroad. These networks not only provided the aspirants with suitable information but also accommodated them at destinations in the foreign countries. The culture of migration through emulation changed the trends of migration in the village. This created a widespread interest among the youth to travel abroad and majority of them were aspired to do it.
The impact of migration was instrumental in influencing the education among the children in the village. The increase in the families’ income could possibly be associated to better educational activities of their children. Majority of the families started sending their children to schools but the enrollment to the English-medium private school was the major choice for migrant families. The school attendance and performance in the classes was not equal among the female and male children. Majority of the male children enrolled in the elementary schools were truant and did not achieve good grades. The girls of the elementary schools on the other hand performed outstandingly as majority of them attended the schools regularly and achieved good grades. The male children of this age group were more focused towards the substitute migration rather than paying attention toward their studies and making determined effort in the education. These trends remained same for the male children even beyond the elementary schooling.
The impact of the migration on health of the families was very significant. In most of the cases the remittances made it possible for the families not only to access the nutritious food but also assured its quality. The process of migration not only provided the economic benefits to the dependents but it also oriented them towards the worldview regarding the consumption of quality and hygienic foods. The role of migration was also positive in the case of the selection of the healthcare services in the village. The majority of families switched from the traditional treatment to more modern and specialized form of medical treatment available in the tertiary hospitals.