New education push: UN envoy promises Pakistan $1b over next four years

Gordon Brown meets Nawaz to discuss improvements in the access to education in Pakistan.

Waqas Naeem/APP March 30, 2014
Gordon Brown meets Nawaz to discuss improvements in the access to education in Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP


The international community will provide Pakistan around $1 billion over the next four years to help domestic efforts to deliver universal education in the country, UN Special Envoy on Global Education Gordon Brown announced on Saturday.

Brown, who is on a brief visit to Pakistan, said he met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other top federal and provincial government officials on Saturday to discuss improvements in the accessibility and quality of education in Pakistan, which has the world’s second-most highest number of out-of-school children at the primary school level.

“We want to set a 21-month goal that by December 2015 we have as many students in school in Pakistan as possible,” said Brown, who was flanked by Minister of State for Education, Trainings and Higher Education Baleeghur Rehman and Punjab’s Governor Muhammad Sarwar during a press conference at the Jinnah Convention Centre.

“We will help you as the international community to meet your objective to get every girl and boy in school,” the former British prime minister said.

The education funds, some of which Brown said have already been pledged and some are being pledged, will be provided by different countries and organizations, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID), Scandinavian countries and Gulf states.

The funding, which is expected to materialise during the tenure of the current government, would be spent on areas such as school buildings, teacher trainings and improving the standard of education through curriculum reform, Brown said. “In return, the world expects Pakistan to continue its efforts to invest in education-for-all and to keep its promise to double the education budget,” he added.

He said the international community also wanted to make sure there were no child marriages in Pakistan, that child labour was outlawed and that Pakistani girls – who wanted to get education – did not face any discrimination.

The UN envoy, who also met with provincial education officials, said he has talked with Pakistani authorities about developing ‘concrete measures to actually get students in school instead of just promising them education’.

He said he has witnessed a greater thrust for education among the government officials and civil society. “I see a consensus right across society that investment in education is a far greater priority in Pakistan now than it was a few years ago,” he said.

The PM’s address

Inaugurating the international conference on `Unfinished Agenda in Education: the Way Forward’, Premier Nawaz unveiled his government’s plan to launch a countrywide literacy movement to ensure enrollment of every child in the school, by introducing a package of incentives.

“Our effort is to achieve the targets, set by Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the coming three years,” he said, adding that a key target, set by UNESCO, was to increase resources for the education sector to reach 4% of the GDP by the year 2018.

The premier said his government’s objective was to develop an educational system that was compatible with the requirements of a knowledge-based economy. He stressed to focus on science and technology and modern skills in education system, besides calling for prioritisation of female education in education policy, effective participation of women in the decision-making process and to protect their respect and dignity.

“It has, in fact, become a national emergency. More than half of the country’s population is below 25 years of age. With proper education and training, this huge reservoir of human capital can offer us an edge in the race for growth and prosperity in the age of globalisation,” he added. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2014.


Mudabber | 8 years ago | Reply

I'm sure Gordon Brown's program would never be a blessing for us. They are more interested in changing our ideology and our way of life using these 'educational' means. Little in the past, don't we remember what UN's programs like Cairo, Beijing & Beijing plus Conferences meant for? If they are more worried about child marriages then they better go home and try to stop all those teenage pregnancies down there. According to US Alan Guttmacher Institute, in 2002 alone, there were 750,000 girls below 18 who got pregnant out of wed-lock! So, this is the mirror they should see. YOU better take care of these girls as they need you.

Reshma | 9 years ago | Reply

Education get the highest foreign aid in Pakistan, but where does the money go....Why is PK still unable to achiever MDG? And yet another investment in the government sector is questionable. There is a need of strong govt-private partnership and much of the money needs to be spend through this partnership, because there is a strong monitoring and evaluation system in process in authentic NGOs which is miserably lacking in the government system and so the aid going through the system, gives no desired outcome. There is a strong need of restructuring of the education system with the help of the private system....resources and financial support could be the responsibility of the government while much of the soft capabilities such as teacher training, monitoring students progress, managing schools should come through authentic NGOs.

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