Fifty-Five New UNICEF-Constructed Schools Inaugurated
ISLAMABAD, April 4 2012 – Fifty-five new schools constructed by UNICEF in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with funding from Australia and the Netherlands were inaugurated by the Australian High Commissioner Timothy George, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Kingdom of the Netherlands Sander Janssen and the UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Dan Rohrmann, at a ceremony held yesterday in the Gari Habibullah Government Primary School in earthquake-affected northwestern Pakistan.
“Education is an investment in the future of individuals, communities, and the nation”, said Australian High Commissioner Timothy George. “Australia is proud to be supporting UNICEF’s work, in partnership with the Government of Pakistan, to reconstruct 149 schools, therefore providing thousands of children a safe space in which to continue – or in some cases commence – their education”.
Speaking on the occasion, the Dutch Chargé d’Affaires Sander Janssen said, “In any society, children are the future. These new schools in the earthquake-affected regions are an asset and we believe that quality education for children is necessary for the good future of Pakistan. It is now up to the Provincial Government to make sure that these new schools are properly maintained and that they continue providing quality education”.
UNICEF has constructed seismic resistant state-of-the-art schools in Mansehra district as part of the Pakistan Earthquake Education Programme for children affected by the tragedy in 2005.
With the 55 new schools, 206 of the planned 219 schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have now been completed and handed over to the provincial education department. The remaining schools are at differing stages of construction and will be completed by the end of June 2012.
“Education is not only the basic right of every child but also a necessity for national development,” said UNICEF Pakistan Representative Dan Rohrmann. “Creating opportunities for children in the wake of the 2005 earthquake is a mission UNICEF embarked upon soon after the tragedy.”
“With the invaluable support of the Australian Agency for International Development and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with ERRA, PERRA, KP Education Department and a host of other partners, we have managed to come a long way in support of the ‘build back better’ initiative of the Government of Pakistan,” Rohrmann added.
“These new schools provide equitable access to education and combined with the child-friendly schools and learning environments, children will be exposed to a more interactive and empowering learning environment," Rohrmann said.
"With the added elements of health and hygiene; clean drinking water and improved sanitation, parents, teachers and community members have a unique opportunity to ensure that every child of school-going age is enrolled and does not drop out,” he said.
To date, the Netherlands Government has provided US$32 million and the Australian Agency for International Development AU$19 million to UNICEF for the Pakistan Earthquake Education Programme.
The newly inaugurated 55 schools in Mansehra district were built at a cost of PKR 394 million (US$4.7 million). Nearly 5,755 children are currently enrolled in them schools.
UNICEF has trained hundreds of teachers in pedagogy, teaching methodology and psycho-social support for the new schools.
The opening of the new schools coincides with a UNICEF campaign recently launched across the country with the aim to enrol every child of school-going age in school and to encourage those already enrolled to stay in school.
Present on the occasion were the Secretary Education KP Muhammad Mushtaq Jadoon, Director General of the Provincial Earthquake Authority (PERRA) Munir Azam, teachers, children, community members and local dignitaries.