One third of the world’s out of school children reside in Pakistan. The literacy rate of girls in Northen Pakistan remains low at 6.35 percent. Pakistan is one of the biggest education reform challenges on the planet.
Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Mr. Ross Hynes, recently inaugurated one of six newly constructed Government Girls’ Primary Schools in DegerMera village of District Battagram (in KPK province) of Pakistan. The High Commissioner – accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Vanessa Hynes; Head of Aid, Ms. Rhonda Gossen Ehsani; and First Secretary Development Mr. David Fournier – were given a warm welcome by the community in the remote northern district.
The schools, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in partnership with Save the Children Canada, are part of the program of support to primary education in Battagram to restore education facilities following the destruction caused by 2005 Earthquake. They aim to provide quality basic education with special emphasis on girls.
In addition to the construction of six schools, the project also provided furniture and learning materials, and improved the quality of 100 project schools, 29 of which were also provided with safe drinking water facilities.
The project involved the communities in planning, implementation and monitoring of primary education, and trained over 300 teachers and 232 women Parent-Teacher Committee members. Furthermore, 36 000 children have been dewormed and have received micronutrient supplements during school health days. As a result, Battagram has seen a 37% increase in school enrolment, and marked increase in school completion rates.
CIDA support for basic education in Pakistan began in 2001, with support directed towards basic education for girls. Recognizing that the quality of education is one of the greatest challenges in attracting and keeping children in school, CIDA is directing its resources towards the in-service training of public school teachers and the improvement of government management systems for basic education.
The Pakistan-Canada Debt for Education Conversion initiative, which is the result of an agreement between the two governments to convert Pakistan’s outstanding Official Development Assistance loans to Canada into domestic education sector improvement, is the flagship of CIDA’s education program.
The focus of the debt conversion is on teacher training, with funds being used to revitalize and strengthen teacher training institutions throughout the country. The imitative has supported close to 250,000 primary school teachers since its inception.
Other education programming includes the Punjab Education Development Project, which provided support to the Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme through the World bank and aims to improve access, quality and governance in basic education. Additional education programming includes a teacher training project with Aga Khan Foundation, a girls’ education project managed by UNICEF, and a school reconstruction project in Pakistan Administered Kashmir.