Out-of-school time use in Pakistan: A qualitative study featuring youth's voices

Salima Kerai, Marium Ibrahim, Tonje M. Molyneux, Uzma Hussain, Anne Gadermann, Rosemin Kassam, Almina Pardhan, Eva Oberle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study addresses the lack of out-of-school time (OST) research in low- and middle-income countries by exploring OST use in the context of Pakistan and incorporating youth's voices. Using a qualitative descriptive design with focus-group discussions, we conducted a study in three middle schools set in low- to middle-income neighborhoods in urban and rural areas of Karachi, Pakistan. We engaged 86 youth (50% girls; aged 10–15 years) that were purposefully selected from grade six (31.4%), seven (44.2%) and eight (24.4%) classrooms, balancing gender and locality. In each focus group, we asked participants to describe their afterschool activity routine on a typical weekday afternoon until bedtime. Digital recordings of discussions were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using content analysis. Based on sixteen focus groups with five to six participants in each group, we identified eight distinct categories: religious activities, schoolwork, screentime, helping adult family members, family time, outdoor play, indoor leisure activities, and hanging out with friends. We found that structured activities (e.g., religious activities and schoolwork supervised by an adult) were reported more frequently than unstructured activities (e.g., outdoor play and family time). Participation in activities varied by gender and location (i.e., urban vs. rural), highlighting disparities associated with the sociocultural context that marginalized youth face. Our findings provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of Pakistani youth outside of school. Additionally, they elucidate how economic resources, sociocultural norms regarding gender, and community safety shape youth's time use and socialization patterns. Findings from this study can inform the development of OST activities and initiatives aimed at promoting the positive development of Pakistani youth.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Pakistan
  • gender differences
  • lower-middle-income country
  • out-of-school
  • qualitative study
  • time use
  • youth


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