BHC, DFID jointly hold seminar on girl education

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Govt to allocate Rs5b for undergraduates, preferably girls
Zubair Qureshi

The incumbent government has planned to allocate Rs 5 billion for undergraduate scholarships while most of this would be preferred for girls, said the Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood here on Friday.
“The government increased access to education for girls as we intended to each girl of the country could get education”, Shafqat Mehmood said, due to this strategy, he claimed, desire to get education is significantly increased among the girls.
He was addressing to a seminar titled “Leave No Girl Behind: Scaling up What Works for Adolescent Girls in Pakistan” organized by the British High Commission (BHC) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in joint cooperation with Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) here at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).
The minister said girls were especially facing difficulties as educational institutions in many parts of the country are located at large distances from their residences. “Due to this we are considering to plan a policy to declare educational institutions’ buildings for evening classes (for girls)”, he said.
On the occasion British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr. Christian Turner said the UK had pledged to advance at least 12 years of quality education for all girls across the world. Dr Turner maintained that the Pakistan could only reach its full potential if women were given voice and a choice. “We will continue to build on our exemplary UK-Pakistan partnership to support girls’ education and their financial independence,” the high commissioner said.
Baela Raza Jamil was of the view that Siyani Sahelin was a highly scalable and accelerated programme that should reach every corner of the country for all dropping out girls (from schools) to complete their education and enter the workforce equipped with certified skills and confidence.
She recalled that the ITA aimed to tackle gender inequality for disadvantaged out of school adolescent girls (aged 9-year to 19-year) in three districts of South Punjab included as Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan.
DFID Pakistan Head Annabel Gerry added that the UK was pleased to support collective action to step up our efforts to advance girls’ education in Pakistan. “We believe in leading by example and building sustainable partnerships, our support so far has benefitted millions of girls in primary and secondary schools in Pakistan”, Gerry recalled.
She claimed that the DFID was also targeting more than 20,000 hardest to reach and the most marginalised girls in South Punjab to get the quality of education they deserve and earn livelihoods for themselves and their families. Together, we can work to ensure that we #LeaveNoGirlBehind and improve the lives of girls and women in Pakistan.
A panel discussion was also held with participation from Dr. Zeba Sathar, Country Director Population Council; filmmaker and activist Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy; Danish Jabbar Khan, CEO Kaarvan Crafts Foundation and Bilquis Tahira, Executive Director Shirakat which was moderated by Saima Anwer, Senior Education Adviser at DFID Pakistan. The panelists had a consensus that although the government has outlined ambitious plans for girls’ education and empowerment, much more needs to be done as the problem is far too big and complex to tackle in organizational silos.
Special Assistant to prime minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr. Sania Nishtar said that participation of women in country economic and social development sectors is too low.
“Due to this backdrop, the incumbent government allocated 50 percent of total Ehsaas program for women and similarly 50 percent scholarships are also planned to give girls”, she applauded.

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