UNICEF head ends Punjab visit with school opening
Muzaffargarh, April 29, 2011: UNICEF Pakistan Representative Dan Rohrmann concluded his visit to Punjab province today with the opening of a model school that will not only help rebuild schooling after the devastating floods of 2010 but will also be a hub for community development.
The Transitional School Structure (TSS), was developed in collaboration between UNICEF and the Punjab government, the District Education Department with the involvement of the local communities, with funding from AusAid. This new 3 classroom facility replaces a one-room school that was destroyed during the floods and brings the first government school to the community in 28 years.
With complete child-friendly facilities, including sanitation facilities for boys and girls, it is suitable to the local climate and can be constructed in only three weeks..The opening today brought not only 314 children to class, as opposed to the 121 students that attended school beforehand, but also included many girls who for the first time were exposed to learning either in the early learning classes or in the primary school. UNICEF has already reserved funds for more than a hundred similar schools.
“When families went back to their communities after the widespread flooding, many children found their schools washed away or damaged. This provides an opportunity for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children to pursue their right to quality education and bring back a sense of normalcy. Indeed with the many new students to the school it was building back better in one of the poorest communities in the District. For us, the opportunity and the excitement clearly demonstrated by the education department and the communities and children are really encouraging,” Rohrmann said.
Earlier, Mr. Rohrmann also witnessed the Mother and Child Week festivities in Multan, where a successful UNICEF-supported Rural Health Centre has brought a dramatic change to the community by giving 24-hour health services to mothers and children. He also met young volunteers who help out-of-school youths go back to formal schooling. In Rajanpur District, Multan, he took part in a Health Festival, spoke to volunteers at an Infant and Young Child Feeding training, and met children in a Child-Friendly Space ran by Johandad Society, a UNICEF partner.
“My visit to Punjab was an exciting experience which showed me not only the many challenges that we face in the province, but also the impressive commitment being shown by our partners and communities here. We in UNICEF look to them for inspiration. With all of our efforts we looked forward to making a visible and profound change for children,” Rohrmann said.
UNICEF, as part of the Delivering As One Joint UN Programme and the Government of Punjab will work together for the next two years to focus on reducing disparities through proven evidence-based interventions. This is to achieve gains on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in the context of Pakistan’s development and recovery plans.