Overcoming a climate-disaster, children find new opportunities to learn
The EU and UNICEF restore education facilities in flood-affected districts of Balochistan Province
Jaffarabad, Pakistan – October 2023: “I am so happy to be back in school,” says eight-year-old Nadia, with a warm smile and her arms wrapped around a textbook. “We learn, play, and all my friends are here too.”
Nadia’s education was interrupted for almost one year after her mud and clay school was damaged beyond repair in the devastating floods that hit Pakistan in August 2022.
Nadia comes from a large family; she lives with her mother and nine siblings. Her father, Fayyaz Ahmed, passed away due to a liver-related illness during the floods. Only three days after his death, Nadia’s youngest brother was born.
Though poor and illiterate, Fayyaz was an ardent supporter of girls’ education. He wanted all his children to learn and progress in life. He was devastated when the only school in Lajawab village collapsed during the floods.
Lajawab village is in Jaffarabad District, one of the worst-affected districts in Balochistan, following last year’s floods.
“Without the school and my books, I woke up every morning thinking what to do all day long. It felt so strange, so empty. Everything was lost in the floods,” says Nadia.
Investing in Education in Balochistan
The floods severely impacted Balochistan, exacerbating the education challenges in the province where 6 out of 10 children have either never enrolled in school or had dropped out before completing the primary education cycle.
To strengthen the education system and provide a new impetus for quality learning, the European Union (EU) and UNICEF launched a four-year Balochistan Basic Education Programme in 2016, in collaboration with the Balochistan Education Department.
In 2021, the EU expanded this support providing additional funds for the Balochistan Education Support II (BES II) Programme, currently being implemented in 20 districts. The programme supports school enrolment drives, scaling-up school development plans, strengthening and expanding parent-teacher interactions, regular monitoring of the Balochistan Education Sector Plan and more.
In response to the severe impact on education from last year’s floods, the BES II Programme supported the repair and reconstruction of schools and the provision of learning material to students.
Back to learning
The Transitional School Structure in Lajawab is among the first to be completed as part of the BES II school repair, reconstruction and rehabilitation plans.
The community in Lajawab is happy to see the Transitional School Structure (TSS) completed and their children returning to education.
The school is constructed on raised ground that makes it safe and climate resilient. Its modest energy needs are met by solar power.
As soon as it was completed, the school became an attraction for children from all the nearby villages. It is now fully operational with 67 students enrolled, 32 girls and 35 boys.
Sajjad (19) Nadia’s elder brother, gave up his education to take on the responsibility of providing for family after his father’s passing. He ensured that his younger sisters including Nadia, joined the newly constructed school to fulfil their father’s dream.
“We love the new school as it is much better than the old one. We have also received new school bags, books, pencils, erasers, and a net and ball for our play time,” she adds.
“Nadia’s story is a testament to children’s determination to continue their education after last year’s floods and the resilience of communities to rebuild their lives. Thanks to the EU’s support, we are witnessing the power of education to restore hope and some normality for children in flood-affected communities,” says Palwasha Jalalzai, Education Specialist at UNICEF.