Education essential for inclusive growth: EU ambassador

ISLAMABAD: European Union Ambassador in Pakistan Androulla Kaminara said the body has continued to support Pakistan in her efforts to strengthen education and good governance for pursuing a path of inclusive growth and development in the country.

To materialise the concept of good governance and strengthening the education system, particularly in far-flung towns, the union would fund the Balochistan Education Support, a five-year education development programme worth €17.4 million (Rs3.27 billion).

Talking to APP, Kaminara said: “An educated young generation is more imperative for Pakistan to pursue a path of inclusive growth and development.”

Terming education as a basic human right and key to ensuring that people do not fall behind in society and in life, she said: “The EU is committed to ensuring access to quality education for all boys and girls in Balochistan, which will enable them to follow their dreams and contribute to a better future for Pakistan.”

In response to a question about coronavirus and its impact on the education system, the ambassador said the pandemic had shaken the world economy and leaving the people in a lurch, however, the main focus of the union to address Covid-19 challenges and taking steps to reduce its significant impacts on education and others sectors.

Kaminara said: “The EU will continue to work closely with its partners including the Government of Balochistan and UNICEF to support and strengthen Pakistan’s education system.”

To another qurey, she said: “The union’s support on primary and secondary education is a priority area under the Pakistan-EU Strategic Engagement Plan, which serves as a guide for bilateral relations between the two sides and aims to further enhance engagement and work towards addressing emerging global challenges.”

While, she said, substantial progress was being made under the Balochistan Basic Education Programme as the EU and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund have formally signed an agreement to launch the BES-II.

“The overall cost of this project is €22.2 million and UNICEF contribution is €4.8 million. The new programme aims to contribute to supporting the government of Balochistan to build high-quality performance and management education systems in the province.”

She said that the project would contribute to the overall objective of improving literacy, numeracy, skills and qualifications for the people in the province. It will do so through improving access to quality primary and middle-level education and by increasing accountability, reporting and transparency of the Balochistan Secondary Education Department.

UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Aida Girma-Melaku, in a statement, said: “The setback to educational activities due to Covid-19 must not deter us from trying to provide a better and brighter future for the children and young people of Balochistan.”

She expressed hope that under the leadership of the Education department, UNICEF would endeavor to translate children’s right to education into outcomes.

She said: “The BES-II will go a long way to help achieve the long-term targets set in BBEP and the new initiatives reflected in the programme.”

Melaku said: “To make up for the academic time lost due to Covid-19, additional activities have been included in BES-II. These include training of teachers on standard operative procedures for school health and safety, tailoring enrollment drives to ensure that children return to education and providing alternatives for children who drop out due to economic impact of the crises.”

She informed that the EU provided Pakistan with about €100 million in annual grants in her efforts to tackle poverty, increase education, promote good governance, human rights, rule of law and ensure sustainable management of natural resources.

EU-funded projects cover the entire with a special focus on Sindh and Balochistan, she said. (courtesy PT)