Mobilising community to help schooling in flood-hit areas

UNICEF paying citizens to persuade parents to send their children to school.


Owais Jaffery July 28, 2011

MUZAFFARGARH:


As part of its efforts to help the provincial government rebuild schools damaged in floods, United Nations Children’s Fund has started a community mobilisation campaign to promote schooling in flood affected districts.


It has set up school councils consisting of teachers, parents and district administration officials to encourage people to send their children to schools.

Talking to The Express Tribune during a visit to some UNICEF-funded schools in Muzafargarh, UN ambassador to Pakistan Rauf Engin Soysal said that of the Rs5.3 billion UN budget for Pakistan, Rs3.1 billion had been spent on education this year. He said the UNICEF would continue to support the provincial government in improving facilities at schools. He said community mobilisation was critical to improving literacy. “We have started a cash for work programme to encourage people whose children are already enrolled in schools to educate others in their villages about the benefits of sending their children to schools,” he said. He said the response so far was very encouraging. He said the UNICEF had also set up units consisting 300 students each in several schools in Muzafargarh. These units, he said, would be equipped with necessary facilities. The model could then be replicated at other schools in the province.  At least 950 schools damaged in Muzafargarh during last summer’s floods have been repaired and are now functional, Muzafargarh district coordination officer Tahir Khursheed told The Express Tribune.

He said the provincial government had carried out reconstruction work in collaboration with non-government organisations and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

‘Mobilisation is helping’

Peer Dargai Shah, a Muzafargarh village, has seen a rise in school enrolments in the wake of the community mobilisation campaign.

A district administration official said that in absolute terms literacy rate at the village was still not very encouraging but it had improved compared to before floods when there was no effort to educate people about sending their children to schools

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2011.

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