Saudi funding with UNICEF support aims to bring children in conflict-affected districts of KP and FATA back to school
21 October 2011, Nawan Kalay, Swat – Almost half a million conflict-affected children in North-western Pakistan will benefit from a better learning environment as a result of key support from the Saudi Fund for Development for the UNICEF Welcome to School Initiative. The initiative was celebrated at a hand-over ceremony held at Nawan Kalay Government Primary School in Swat today.
Under the project plan, a total of 800 schools in six districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and 350 schools in two agencies of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) will be provided with essential education materials and equipment that will enhance learning. As a result, approximately 483,000 children affected by the conflict will be able to return to school.
The ceremony was attended by senior representatives from the Education Department of KP, the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia and UNICEF. Teachers, students and parents from the local and surrounding areas were also in attendance.
“I admire the people for overcoming whatever they lost in the past during conflict,” said Abdullah Al-Shoaibi, Chief Engineer Technical Department, of the Saudi Fund for Development. “The future is the future and we are happy to aid them in rebuilding their lives and country. I also admire UNICEF for all their efforts in the procurement of these educational items that will enhance the lives of the children and families in the area.”
Provincial Education Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sardar Hussain Babak, said: “In each and every critical situation in Pakistan, the Saudi people and Government have assisted us. We are very grateful. We also appreciate the help of UNICEF in working with the Provincial Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Saudi Fund for Development and implementing partners in resupplying these schools.”
“I salute the people of SWAT for bravely facing difficult circumstances in the last two years, where teachers and students were threatened. Now I can say that we in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are the role models for the rest of Pakistan in rebuilding the educational system,” said Mr Babak.
UNICEF Pakistan Representative, Dan Rohrmann, said: “The Saudi Fund for Development and UNICEF share a vision of ensuring that children and their rights are protected under any circumstances. By working together we can make a difference that will forever change the lives of children, especially of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. An investment in children is an investment in the future.”
The project focuses on improving the education environment and learning outcomes for children, particularly in areas where displaced families have returned. SFD provided funding for the initiative by contributing US $12.5 million. Under an agreement signed by UNICEF and SFD, US$23 million has been allocated for an integrated package of assistance for children and families in KP and FATA.
The schools are to be equipped with all basic educational, recreational and emergency management services and facilities. Children will be provided with basic learning supplies including textbooks. In addition, an organized campaign to increase student enrolment will be initiated at the community level.