KARACHI: The USAID stepped up its financial aid from $115 million to $155 million for funding almost 200 schools in Sindh’s flood affected areas.
The decision was taken on Monday in a meeting held by the senior minister of education and literacy, Pir Mazhar ul Haq, and Pakistan’s deputy mission director for USAID, Edward Birgells, at the minister’s office in Sindh Secretariat.
The approved affected regions for support previously included five districts, Dadu, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Kashmore and Larkana. Now Karachi and Kambhar Shahdadkot are likely to be included according to a press release issued by the ministry. While other districts are heavily affected by floods, Sukkur and Karachi have been included because of their needs. The sub-urban areas of Karachi will be the main focus.
The project is being implemented by the department of education and a Project Inspection Unit is being formed to oversee it. The funding is to be disbursed over a period of three to five years for the completion of all schools. They will cover technical assistance and construction, said a senior official at the meeting.
The finalisation of timelines was a breakthrough, as the proposal has been discussed for the last eight months. The Sindh government is running on a tight schedule as the construction is expected to start from February next year, said the education minister. All the other details such as contracts and the selection of land have to be completed before that time.
The government is primarily aiming to construct big middle and secondary schools instead of small set-ups to ensure quality.
The minister appreciated the support provided by USAID for both, the flood survivors and the education sector as a whole. He said that this effort will bring positive results in the sector of education in the province. The deputy mission director also appreciated the steps taken by the provincial department of education, and assured them of his support at the hour long meeting, said the press statement.
USAID’s previous education support to Pakistan includes projects such as Ed-links and Pre-steps.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2011.