Fifty-five new schools constructed by Unicef in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were inaugurated at a ceremony in Garhi Habibullah to compensate for the ones destroyed by the 2005 earthquake on Tuesday.
“Education is an investment in the future of individuals, communities, and the nation”, said Australian High Commissioner Timothy George, who inaugurated the schools, according to a press statement released by Unicef. He said Australia would be supporting Unicef, in partnership with the Pakistan government to reconstruct 149 schools, providing thousands of children a safe space in which to continue — or in some cases commence — their education.”
Speaking on the occasion, Dutch Chargé d’Affaires Sander Janssen said, “In any society, children are the future. It is now up to the provincial government to make sure that these new schools are properly maintained and that they continue to provide quality education.”
Unicef has constructed seismic-resistant state-of-the-art schools in Mansehra district as part of the Pakistan Earthquake Education Programme for children affected by the tragedy.
With the 55 new schools, 206 of the planned 219 schools in K-P have now been handed over to the provincial education department. The remaining schools are in various stages of construction and will be completed by the end of June.
“Education is not only the basic right of every child but also a necessity for national development,” said Unicef Representative in Pakistan Dan Rohrmann. “Creating opportunities for children in the wake of the 2005 earthquake is a mission Unicef embarked upon soon after the tragedy.”
“These new schools provide equitable access to education and combined with a child-friendly learning environment, children will be exposed to a more interactive and empowering learning environment,” he said.
“With clean drinking water and improved sanitation, parents, teachers and community members have a unique opportunity to ensure that every child is enrolled and stays in school,” said the Unicef representative.
The newly inaugurated 55 schools in Mansehra district were built at a cost of Rs394 million. Nearly 5,755 children are currently enrolled in these schools. Unicef has trained hundreds of teachers in pedagogy, teaching methodology and psycho-social support for the new schools.
The opening of the new schools coincides with a Unicef campaign recently launched across the country with the aim to enroll every child of school-going age in school and to encourage those already enrolled to stay in school.
Present on the occasion were Secretary Education K-P Muhammad Mushtaq Jadoon, Director General of the Provincial Earthquake Authority (Perra) Munir Azam, teachers, children, community members and local dignitaries.
Unicef is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2012.