2 mln Pakistani girls to benefit from Michelle Obama’s education initiative

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 26 (APP): About two million girls in Pakistan
will benefit from the U.S. First Lady’s education initiative
recently launched with an investment of $70 million.
The United States announced a new partnership with Pakistan to
increase girls’ enrollment in schools during Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif’s visit to Washington.
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama at a special event held at White
House, which was attended by Begum Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif and Maryam
Nawaz, said she was proud to announce that the U.S. will build more
than a dozen new schools and rehabilitate hundreds of others in
Pakistan.
“That is 200,000 girls who will have a chance to fulfill their
promise — just like our daughters have that opportunity — and will
become the next generation of doctors, teachers and entrepreneurs,”
the U.S First Lady said.
The project though the U.S Agency for International
Development (USAID) will construct and rehabilitate schools in
conflict and disaster-affected areas, and will provide access to
basic education for adolescent girls among internally displaced
communities.
Also, training, scholarships, and internships will be arranged
for adolescent girls to create paths for higher education,
entrepreneurship, and employment.
The project will provide scholarships for girls to attend a
year of high school in the United States and live with a host
family.
For the under-represented girls of 13 to 18 years age, a
foundation of English language skills will be developed
through two-year programs of after-school classes and intensive
immersion activities.
The project will also create economic opportunities through
skill building and training, securing income and employment for
girls, and expanding the skilled labor force with public and private
partners.
The underprivileged Pakistani high school girls will be given
opportunity to study at top U.S. universities to explore a wide
range of professions.
The project will enrich the teaching and learning environment
through improved reading materials and community mobilization.
This will engage civil society and communities through small
grants for innovative activities to improve equitable access to
quality education, and build local capacity to improve adolescent
girls’ education and empowerment.
The U.S investment in girls’ education will help the many
adolescent girls in Pakistan who still face barriers to education
from an early age due to poverty, cultural norms, violence,
insecurity, and geographic isolation.
The Government of Pakistan, as announced by Prime Minister
Sharif in Oslo in July this year, will double spending for education
in Pakistan, from two to four percent of gross domestic product
(GDP) by 2018 and increase girls’ enrollment in school.
The government will also increase the provision of female
teachers and necessary physical factors such as boundary walls and
adequate toilets in girls’ schools.
Prior to his visit to the United States, Nawaz Sharif launched
the Prime Minister’s Education Initiative that includes a
comprehensive plan for upgradation of infrastructure, setting up of
Information Technology and science laboratories, human resource
management, teachers training, curriculum improvement and bio-metric
attendance system at the public sector schools and colleges across
Islamabad.
The initiative also includes mapping of school transport
system, health and safety of students and the student volunteering
programmes.
Taking notice of the non-implementation of Free and Compulsory
Education Act 2012, the Prime Minister has assigned the task of
ensuring its implementation to Maryam Nawaz.
The PM’s Education Initiative also includes provisions like
grievance redressal system, development of monitoring and evaluation
system, and establishment of an education authority and education
advisory council.
The authority and council will comprise renowned experts to
provide a framework for implementing the Education Act 2012.
The Prime Minister has said that his government’s aim is to
ensure 100 percent enrollment at the schools of capital.
The PM’s Education Initiative aims at introducing the concept
of innovation school volunteer programme at public sector schools to
facilitate opinion leaders and prominent professionals to interact
with students and raise awareness on values like democracy, civic
education, climate change, health and hygiene, harassment at work
place and career counselling.