To support better access, improved quality and safe learning environments for girls in the hardest-to-reach areas of the country, UNESCO and the Government of Pakistan officially launched in Islamabad the “Girls’ Right to Education Programme in Pakistan”. Mr. Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman, Minister of State for Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and Chief Guest on the occasion delivered the key note speech.
It is pertinent to mention here that the programme is funded under the Malala Funds-in-Trust agreement signed in 2014 by Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO and Mr. Baligh Ur Rehman, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by officials and representatives of the federal, provincial and area Governments of Pakistan, Parliamentarians, United Nations, Civil Society Organizations, Academia, Press and Development Partners.
In her video statement Ms. Irina Bokova, DG UNESCO highlighted that despite tremendous progress in access to education worldwide since 2000, there is still a long way to go. She said that approximately 31 million (55 %) girls are out of primary schools worldwide including s 3 million girls in Pakistan.
UNESCO Representative to Pakistan, Ms. Vibeke Jensen in her welcome remarks said that the programme will be implemented over the next three years in twelve districts representing all the provinces and areas of Pakistan. The aim is to get 50,000 more girls enrolled in primary schools, increase their retention and improve learning outcomes.
Minister of State for Education and Professional Training, Mr. Baligh Ur Rehman expressed his gratitude to UNESCO Islamabad for its hard efforts in finalization of the programme and selection of the targeted districts together with the Ministry. He stated that Girls’ Right to Education Program, is intended to promote girls access and retention to education. He said that despite of many challenges, we are committed to improve the standards of education including the girl’s primary education.
The inaugural session was followed by the panel discussion in which female representatives of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assemblies and representative of civil society and academia shared their perspective on girls’ education and highlighted the existing policies and programmes for improvement in girls’ education.