The US government is to provide $155 million aid for the Sindh Basic Education Programme, which will cover seven districts in the northern region of the province and five in Karachi.
This was announced by US Consul-General in Karachi Michael Dodman while speaking as chief guest at an education conference held by the Sindh Association of North America (SANA) at a hotel on Saturday morning.
He said special emphasis in the programme would be laid on girls’ education and made it clear that funds would not just be expended on imparting instruction to girls but would also be utilised in bringing about a change in the parents’ stance whereby they would realise the pivotal importance of girls’ education to help them grow up into good home keepers and useful citizens who would partake of the development effort side by side with their male counterparts.
Besides, he said, another 160 million dollars would be allocated to brush up the reading skills of the children with the most modern educational and learning aids. The programme, according to him, would encompass 750,000 children.
Education is the key to public health, economic development and the overall welfare of the nation, and we just can’t afford to relegate it to a position of lesser importance,” Dodman said.
We are also focusing on teachers’ education and are collaborating with 100 colleges to that end,” Dodman added.
He said that 400 students in Sindh had received USAID scholarships for teachers’ training and were now attached to various teaching institutions.
Another 1,700 students, he said, had benefited from the English language programme.
Our main focus is university education,” Dodman said.
Keynote speaker Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s former permanent representative at the UN, highlighting the indispensible importance of education, pointed out an unfortunate factor, namely the frightening law and order, and said that this adversely affected the spread of education.
He said that even though the creation of Pakistan was rooted in education, the government of Sindh had not given the endeavour the importance it deserved.
We have not fulfilled our constitutional obligation in this regard,” he said.
He laid special emphasis on funding and said that for an endeavour of such pivotal importance, “we must get funds from wherever possible” and could not afford to be finicky in this regard.
A way has to be worked out and let’s hope that SANA will be an agent of change,” Haroon said.
Jamal Daudi, president of SANA, said that for 30 years, SANA had been helping the Sindhi diaspora. In this context, he announced the award of 75 scholarships for skill development.
Terming the state of education in Sindh dire, he said: “Let’s all help Sindh. Let us do it together.”
He cited Nelson Mandela’s famous quote: “Politicians think of the next elections but leaders think of the next generation.”
Air Marshall Riaz Sheikh said that SANA was an organisation of blue-collar workers.
Talking of education in Pakistan, he said: “We are way behind other countries in the pursuit of education and continued complacency could mean that we’ll have no country left.”
Mehvish Siddiki lauded SANA’s efforts at eradicating poverty and giving impetus to education. She called for laying special emphasis on the women, children and minorities.
She said that currently there were 9.3 million children of school-going age out of school in Pakistan, and the provision of water and sanitation left a lot to be desired.
“The onus is on the shoulders of all of us. We have to create a more productive atmosphere,” she said.The news.