UNESCO and the Government of Pakistan have officially launched a three-year Girls’ Right to Education Programme in Pakistan to support better access to quality education and skills for girls in remote areas of the country.
In a video statement at the inaugural ceremony in Islamabad on October 8, Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova said: “This major initiative reflects the deep commitment of the Government of Pakistan to support girls’ education as a human rights issue and as a breakthrough strategy for human development and peace.”
The programme is supported by the Malala Funds-in-Trust agreement signed in Islamabad in 2014 by Ms Bokova and Mr. Baligh Ur Rehman, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training. It will be implemented over the next three years in twelve districts with particularly low enrolment, high illiteracy rates for adults, and in particular women, and poor retention of girls at primary school.
Working through local civil society organizations and at community level, the programme aims to get 50,000 more girls enrolled in primary schools, increase their retention and improve learning outcomes by supporting better access, improved quality and safe learning environments.
Ms Bokova said: “There has been tremendous progress across the world, and in Pakistan, since 2000 – but there are still 31 million girls out of primary school worldwide, including 3 million in Pakistan. Together, we are committed to do everything to provide them with access to quality learning, to empower them to contribute fully to society.
“This is essential for the new Sustainable Development Goals, which recognize access to education as a human right vital for the sustainability of all development.”
The ceremony was attended by officials and representatives of the federal, provincial and area Governments of Pakistan, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, academia and development Partners.
Delivering the keynote speech, Mr. Baligh Ur Rehman expressed his gratitude to UNESCO Islamabad for its efforts in finalizing the programme and selection of the targeted districts together with the ministry.
He said: “We envision standardizing the education system in Pakistan in terms of curriculum, teaching, classroom environment and school facilities. Realizing the growing need and demands of modern education system the Government is aimed to introduce ICT in all schools in the country”.
UNESCO Representative to Pakistan, Ms. Vibeke Jensen expressed sincere thanks to the Government of Pakistan.
The inaugural ceremony ended with a performance from a group of students from Rawalpindi Grammar School highlighting the importance of girls’ education and empowerment.
It was followed by a panel discussion in which female representatives of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assemblies and representatives of civil society and academia shared their perspective on girls’ education. Ms. Maki Hayashikawa from UNESCO headquarters presented the global perspective on post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals focusing on targets and indicators for SDG 4.