GILGIT: Every third child of primary school going age out of 10 are out of school in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
This was revealed in the first report on the number of out-of-school children in the region prepared by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Education Department of G-B, the Federal Ministry of Education and Professional training and with support from the Lahore University of Sciences.
The report, launched in Gilgit on Wednesday, determined that over 70,000 children are out of school in the region. Of these 65 per cent are children of pre-primary age (between three to five years of age), 30.6 per cent are children of primary school age (between six to 10 years of age), while 12.4 per cent of children not in school are of lower secondary school age (between 11 to 13 years of age). Slightly over half are girls.
While launching the report, G-B Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman said that his government was according top priority to the development of education and health sectors in the region.
Rehman added that the survey would help formulate an effective strategy for his government in future.
He added that the fee for students studying up to PhD was being paid by the federal government and in this regard, an amount of Rs340 million has been released for the Karakorum International University.
Moreover, the chief minister said that his government had been providing books to students from grade one to 10 free of cost.
“Every child has a right to education. We must go beyond the usual to make it happen,” said UNICEF Country Director Angela Kearney.
The upcoming budget would be pro-poor and have a special focus on the uplift of education, health and youth.
This was stated by CM Rehman during a pro-budget seminar organised by the Finance Department.
He added that the development outlay had been increased by a record Rs8 billion while special measures would be proposed for increasing resources and revenue of the province in the budget.
During the seminar, the Finance Department secretary briefed the chief minister about the various proposals and recommendations in the upcoming budget.
Rehman said that the development budget was being increased from Rs9 billion to Rs17 billion while the entire developmental budget for the ongoing fiscal year had been utilised for the first time in the history of the region.
He added that no project would be deferred owing to lack of funds and all the projects would be completed on time.
Rehman added the government will be focusing on improving hospitals and schools besides others socio-economic sectors adding that special funds would be allocated in the master plan in the upcoming budget.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2017.