UN office to monitor implementation of safety measures at Pakistani schools

Updated March 19, 2015

Email

Security fences, metal detectors, armed guards and emergency communication systems are part of a package of safety measures for Pakistan's schools being proposed by the UN envoy.
  — Reuters/file
Security fences, metal detectors, armed guards and emergency communication systems are part of a package of safety measures for Pakistan's schools being proposed by the UN envoy. — Reuters/file

UNITED NATIONS: Former British prime minister and UN (United Nations) Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said Wednesday that his office would closely monitor efforts, under the Safe Schools Initiative, to improve security at 1,000 schools in Pakistan.

He said that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had pledged his support to the move.

“We are going to monitor the implementation of safety measures at every school in Pakistan,” Brown told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

Security fences, metal detectors, armed guards and emergency communication systems are part of a package of safety measures for Pakistan's schools being proposed by the UN envoy.

The former UK prime minister has held talks with Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif last month about making schools safer after the Peshawar school massacre.

Brown said he wants to help schools “stand up to terrorist violence”.

The proposals follow an agreement between UN envoy Brown and Prime Minister Sharif to improve the safety of schools in Pakistan.

It follows a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December in which more than 140 students and staff were killed.

Brown is promoting an innovative partnership which will deliver state-of-the-art technology to promote safe schools in Pakistan in cooperation with the government, UNICEF, the Global Business Coalition for Education and local NGOs.

Project is spearheaded by pro-bono technology contribution Perdictify, Me, a US-based data sciences and predictive analytics form, headed by Rob Burns, CEO and Dr. Zeeshan-ul-Hassan Usmani, Co-founder and Chief Data scientist.

Brown, the UN global education envoy, made a fervent call upon the international community to fund the security improvements.

He said such measures to make schools safer will “reassure parents and pupils that everything is being done to counter extremist threats”.

Brown said that Prime Minister Sharif had pledged his personal commitment to improving the security of children in school where 5 to 7 million children are out of school.

Earlier the UN envoy for global education called for a multimillion-dollar fund to provide education for children in emergencies and urged donors to start with $163 million to educate half a million Syrian children who are refugees in Lebanon.

Gordon Brown told a news conference Wednesday that it's time for decisive action to prevent millions of children from falling through the cracks and losing out on an education.

Brown, a former British prime minister, said there have been more than 10,000 attacks on schools during the past five years and 28 million boys and girls are not in school in areas of conflict and emergency.

He said the growing education crisis reaches from Iraq to Nigeria and from South Sudan to Pakistan. Brown called for international donors to reach agreement this spring on the new fund. “We have set a deadline for progress at the Oslo Summit on Global Education in July. “

Brown said he and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende are calling a conference on educating Syrian refugee children in Lebanon in Washington on April 16, with support from Lebanon's education minister.

The $163 million is needed to operate a double-shift system in Lebanese schools which will enable the Syrian youngsters to return to class, he said.

Brown said he hope that this idea could be expanded to Jordan, Turkey and other countries with large numbers of refugee children.

He also called for stepped up efforts to make schools safe.

Brown announced a new partnership between the public and private sector starting in Pakistan where 1,000 schools will take part in a pilot program using state-of-the-art technology and simulation software to assess the level of risk preparedness against attacks.

Each school will receive specific recommendations to improve safety, he said, and plans will be announced shortly to extend the initiative to South Sudan, Lebanon and Congo.

Brown also called for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria nearly a year ago and 89 schoolboys who were taking exams in South Sudan.