Three million school-aged children in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) are out of school and two million of these are girls, according to British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson.
“This is really a state of education emergency,” said Thomson, while speaking at the launch of the ‘K-P school enrolment campaign 2012’ in Peshawar.
The project, which aims to enrol over 800,000 children in school by 2015 in addition to building more than 2,000 classrooms, is being provided for by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID).
“Education is the single most important factor that can transform this province’s future,” Thomson emphasised.
The drive was formally launched by K-P Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti after he enrolled one Aurangzeb, son of Mohammad Hamza, in the Nasir Bagh Primary School.
Hoti asked the donors to strictly monitor the efficacy of the programme so that projects are completed on time and in a transparent manner.
‘Foundation of enlightened societies’
Reflecting upon the importance of female literacy in the province, Hoti asserted that after peace had been restored in Swat, girls had been able to go back to schools that had earlier been destroyed by militants.
“Educated mothers lead to enlightened societies,” he said.
“We will utilise all resources to promote education in K-P. Opening 100 schools in partnership with private firms in areas that have no middle or high schools is also a goal,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, DFID Pakistan Chief George Turkington said that it was alarming that seven million people in the province were illiterate while children who should have been in primary school were not enrolled.
A DFID statement said that the UK government will also build around 2,000 literacy centres to teach women how to read and write.
In recent years, the UK has helped around 590,000 girls to continue with their education by granting cash stipends.
Each girl receives Rs200 a month as well as a set of free textbooks in return for attending school for four days throughout the week.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.