ERRA, UNICEF and EC delegation visits school reconstruction site in Muzaffarabad
Muzaffarabad, August 23: The ceremony to inaugurate reconstruction of 250 primary schools in the AJK took place here today at the Govt. Girls Primary school, Sherwan. Deputy Chairman, Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), Lt. General Nadeem Ahmed was the chief guest while UNICEF Representative, Thomas McDermott, Advisor to the delegation of the European Commission (EC), Elisabeth Loacker and Secretary Education AJK, Sardar Naeem Sheraz were also present on the occasion.
In his address, the Deputy Chairman ERRA said, “providing quality education to children under conducive environment is our top priority as we wish to transform the adversity caused by the earthquake into a window of opportunity for our future generations.”
Gen. Nadeem said, “Soon after the earthquake, we wanted to put students back in school. UNICEF’s support in supplying school tents and supplies especially the School in a Box gave us a kick start. UNICEF is supporting us in setting up improved systems for education planning, management and administration along with improved physical standards for safe school buildings with provision for safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.”
Appreciating the resilience of people of AJK, Gen. Nadeem said that all credit for brining normalcy to life goes to the people of this area. Encouraging the communities to support Govt.s efforts in building back better, Gen. Nadeem said that parent-teacher management committees have to make a major contribution it cannot be the sole responsibility of the education department. He further said that emphasis should not only be directed on the provision of hardware through the reconstruction of schools but also on software components through effective character building of students.
Speaking on the occasion in Urdu which pleasantly surprised the audience, UNICEF Representative Thomas McDermott said, “UNICEF will start construction of 62 schools shortly and plans to complete construction of 250 primary schools in AJK over the next three years. We want all children of primary age group to be in school when they re-open after winters. UNICEF will also train 13000 elementary teachers to enhance the quality of teaching beyond pre-earthquake levels.”
Referring to the recently signed agreement between the European Commission and UNICEF under which EC will provide Rs. 750 million to the education recovery programme, Mr. McDermott said that these funds will help UNICEF achieve the objective of providing protective and good quality primary and middle school education for all children. He also mentioned contributions made to this programme by the governments of Australia, Canada and the Netherlands.
Highlighting the European Commission’s interest in the education recovery programme, Advisor to EC, Ms. Elisabeth Loacker said that education in general and girls’ education is particular is our focus area. She mentioned that apart from supporting the education recovery programme, EC is also supporting a livelihood project and an infrastructure programme for education and health sectors in Pakistan.