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Representative of UNESCO in Islamabad hails donation of UAE President to implement projects in Pakistan

posted on 30/10/2011: 924 views

Islamabad - Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli, Director of UAE Assistance Project to Pakistan, has stressed that the UAE under leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has been keen to support the education sector at all levels in Pakistan. He said, by doing so the UAE seeks to provide appropriate education environment to the students in Pakistan to keep pace with the advanced education system.

Al Ghafli added the UAE focuses on upgrading the basic education worldwide in line with the United Nations Millennium Goal on provision of primary education for all. He said the accomplishment of the education projects reached 54.5 per cent, adding that the UAE government, which supervises over 22 education projects, earmarked US$26 million as part of the UAE Assistance Project to Pakistan. The move, continued Al Ghafli, comes in line with the directives by the UAE President, to support education and combat poverty. He added that 51 education projects have been renovated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Region, South of Waziristan Area and Bajur Area.

Dr Kozue Kay Nagata, Director/Representative, UNESCO, in Islamabad, told Emirates News Agency (WAM) in an interview that in view of frequent recurrence of disasters in Pakistan costing many lives and huge economic losses, the Government of UAE and UNESCO can work very closely to promote and ensure disaster preparedness, and mitigation at all levels to increase the resilience of the community to manage various disasters in general, schools in particular and other educational institutions in particular.

"We would like to thank the Government and the People of UAE, for their generous assistance to Pakistan in badly needed development sectors, including education, health and basic infrastructure. UNESCO can contribute to enhance the outcomes of the donation by providing technical support and our expertise to the rebuild damaged education system, building community resilience in emergencies, and ensuring the quality of education, through teacher's training, provision of teaching materials and development of appropriate supplementary curriculum and extracurricular materials on key issues like disasters, health and hygiene, introduction of competency based technical and vocational skills for youths, peace education, conflict resolution, provision of literacy and Non-formal Basic Education opportunities", she added.

Nagata said there are there are two dimensions in UNESCO role regarding devastation of flooding in Pakistan: one is immediate humanitarian response and second is recovery or reconstruction. "Recovery part h includes reactivation of schools, temporary schools in camps, distribution of food, powder milk, clothes and other basic necessities to children in schools through material donations to schools in the affected areas", she added.

Nagata said UNESCO extended assistance during 2010 floods to KPK, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan in following forms: Food items, including clothes to flood affected children and women, establishment of Literacy and Skill Training Centres for Women in 8 districts of KP, Sindh, Punjab, and Baluchistan, establishment of Early Childhood Education Centres for flood affected children, development of material on psycho-social rehabilitation of children, and training of teachers and teacher trainers in all the four provinces.

She said UNESCO has provided humanitarian assistance in the affected areas in Sindh by providing food and other basic necessities to school children in affected areas in partnership with local civil society groups, thus fully mobilising the community resources.

She added that "The other dimension which could be more important is our contribution to institutional capacity for rehabilitation, including provision of technical guidance, provision of psycho-social support to the school children, mainstreaming of the excluded populations -those who were never enrolled in schools before, such as disadvantaged IDPs and poor girls, etc." She said that UNESCO has developed and used training material for training of teachers in psycho-social support for children affected by 2005 earthquake and 2007 cyclone and flood emergencies. The material was used by teachers training institutions in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Baluchistan.

"The focus is on rebuilding education system which includes infrastructure and non-infrastructure components. Both needs have to be addressed as part of effective response. Whilst, UNESCO generally does not build schools in a large scale, there are other UN agencies with whom UNESCO can partner to undertake this particular task . UNESCO will work with those agencies, and provide supplementary technical support to it, such as provision of qualified teachers for a certain duration, provision of teaching materials, and engagement of Parent Teacher Committee in rebuilding education system", Nagata added.

She pointed out that one of UNESCO's main work is to ensure the safety standard, and minimum acceptable conditions of the newly built schools, making sure that schools are fully accessible.

Nagata referred to funding by the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation for reconstruction of education of system damaged by earthquake in the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The project contributed to the education sector in the post crisis situation.

She said the statistics in KPK are not good and the progress made in the past also is limited and slow. In all four provinces in Pakistan, KPK and Baluchistan are the most underdeveloped provinces of Pakistan.

Nagata said gender disparity is very high in KPK, and though overall literacy rate in KPK is about 50%, literacy rate of women is around 35. In some deprived regions of KPK, the rate is even worse. Security issue and poverty aggravates this negative trend.

She added that UNESCO has re-opened a branch office in Peshawar and in the future, "we would like to gear towards emphasising our activities in KPK in Education Sector. We are also ready, soon, to start a new project on mainstreaming refuges in the communities in KPK, ageing, mobilising the resources with the hosting communities." - Emirates News Agency, WAM


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