The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Saturday signed an agreement to launch an estimated 22.2 million euro education initiative for Pakistan’s Balochistan province
The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Saturday signed an agreement to launch an estimated 22.2 million euro education initiative for Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
Out of the total project cost, the EU would provide 17.4 million Euros and UNICEF will co-finance the remaining 4.8 million Euros for the five-year education development program, christened Balochistan Education Support (BES) II, according to a UNICEF press release.
The new program aims to support the Balochistan government to build high-quality performance and management education systems. It will contribute to the overall objective of improving literacy, numeracy, skills and qualifications for the people in the province.
In addition, the BES II will help build on all successful reform initiatives of the Balochistan Basic Education Programme (BBEP), such as the new performance management system, the newly established Balochistan Assessment and Examination Commission, strengthened and expanded parent-teacher school management committees, local education councils and the school development process.
EU Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara said, “The EU is committed to ensuring access to quality education for all boys and girls in Balochistan, which would enable them to follow their dreams and contribute to a better future for Pakistan.”
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on education and our support will focus on addressing some of these challenges,” the envoy maintained.
“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 (SoPs) for school health and safety, tailoring enrolment drives to ensure that children return to education and providing alternatives for children who drop out due to economic impact of the crises,” the release added.
The move comes in the context of recent conciliatory statements on Balochistan by Prime Minister Imran Khan his ministers. Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry was recently quoted as saying: "You will see that Balochistan will soon become a hub of peace."
The minister said peace in the province was important to the government because Balochistan was central to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province and borders both Iran and Afghanistan while in the south it opens out to the Arabian Sea.
His statement came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was considering "talking to insurgents" in Balochistan during a day-long visit to Gwadar, a port city on the southwest coast of Balochistan. The Chinese have invested heavily in Gwadar as part of the CPEC.
"When the province progresses and there is peace, the people of Balochistan will understand that Pakistan is theirs and say we should also fight for it because it thinks of our basic needs and problems,'" Khan had said. He said had development work been carried out in the province, "we would never have had to worry about insurgents."