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September 12, 2018

UK promises help to address out-of-school children issue


September 12, 2018

Islamabad : Declaring out-of-school children a big problem for Pakistan, British High Commissioner Thomas Drew on Tuesday assured Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood of his government's all-out support for the purpose.

Thomas Drew led a British delegation for a meeting with the minister in his office here.

Head of the UK Department for International Development Joanna Reid and Director of the British Council Pakistan Rosemary Hilhorst were also part of the delegation, while the meeting was also attended by federal education secretary Arshad Mirza.

The minister told visitors that promotion of education was the top most priority of the government.

He said Pakistan currently faced various challenges in education sector and the government was fully committed to resolving them.

"Among challenges are bringing the out of school children to schools, establishing a uniform education system and Curriculum, ensuring Quality education and working on the skill development.

"We are working on making a comprehensive education policy that will address these challenges, will ensure quality education and will provide level playing field and equal opportunities to everyone," he said.

The minister said a special programme for street children would be introduced. He said although most powers and functions of Education Ministry after 18th Constitutional Amendment had devolved to provinces, the federal education ministry would try to take a lead role in setting a direction and work in coordination with provincial governments for introducing positive changes.

"We will organise this ministry and attached departments in such a way that they will be reflective of our priorities in education sector."

The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan has set up a National Task Force on Education to address these challenges and a very fruitful first meeting of the Task Force was held yesterday. The task force is further divided into sub-groups and each group is assigned one task each to deliberate upon and give their recommendations to the minister.

He further said that our main focus will also be on the Skill development and human development.

"Vocational and technical training is a must and we are in the process of setting up Skill Universities," he said. The British high commissioner appreciated the steps the government of Pakistan intended to take for promotion of education and offered help and support in this regard and said his country was looking forward to working closely with Pakistan for the promotion of education.

"The high number of out of school children in Pakistan is a big problem. We will provide all-out support to address it," he said.

The DFID head said education was of utmost importance to her organisation, which had worked with KPK and Punjab governments in education sector.

"DFID will share its experiences and lesson learned with education ministry that may be helpful in bringing out of school children to schools," she said.

The British Council Pakistan director appreciated the present government for its social welfare agenda and putting education on top.

She said the British Council had been working for almost 70 years in Pakistan for the promotion of education.

Rosemary Hilhorst assured the minister of her organisation's full support for furthering the cause of education in Pakistan.

Both sides agreed to stay in regular contact and hold further meetings for the promotion of education.

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