Islamabad - Fifty-five new schools constructed by Unicef in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa at a cost of Rs394 million ($4.7 million) were inaugurated on Tuesday at a ceremony held at the Garhi Habibullah Government Primary School in earthquake-affected north-western Pakistan. Nearly 5,755 children are currently enrolled in these schools.
The schools have been built with funding from Australia and the Netherlands, and were inaugurated by Australian High Commissioner Timothy George, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Kingdom of the Netherlands Sander Janssen and Unicef Representative in Pakistan Dan Rohrmann. These seismic resistant state-of-the-art schools in Mansehra district have been constructed by Unicef as part of the Pakistan Earthquake Education Programme for children affected by the tragedy in 2005.
With the 55 new schools, 206 of the planned 219 schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have now been completed and handed over to the provincial education department. The remaining schools are at differing stages of construction and will be completed by the end of June 2012. To date, the Netherlands government has provided $32 million and the Australian Agency for International Development AU $19 million to Unicef for the Pakistan Earthquake Education Programme. Unicef has trained hundreds of teachers in pedagogy, teaching methodology and psychosocial support for the new schools. The opening of the new schools coincides with a Unicef campaign recently launched across the country with the aim to enrol every child of school-going age in school and to encourage those already enrolled to stay in school.
“Education is an investment in the future of individuals, communities, and the nation,” said Timothy George in his address on the occasion. “Australia is proud to be supporting Unicef’s work, in partnership with the government of Pakistan, to reconstruct 149 schools, therefore providing thousands of children a safe space in which to continue, or in some cases commence, their education.” Sander Janssen said, “In any society, children are the future. These new schools in the earthquake-affected regions are an asset and we believe that quality education for children is necessary for the good future of Pakistan. It is now up to the provincial government to make sure that these new schools are properly maintained and that they continue providing quality education.” “Education is not only the basic right of every child but also a necessity for national development,” said Dan Rohrmann. “Creating opportunities for children in the wake of the 2005 earthquake is a mission Unicef embarked upon soon after the tragedy.”
Present on the occasion were Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Secretary Education Muhammad Mushtaq Jadoon, director general PERRA Munir Azam, teachers, children, community members and local dignitaries.
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