Spending for education to be doubled by 2018

Published October 23, 2015
Washington: US First Lady Michelle Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Safdar pictured at an event in the Blue Room of the White House here on Thursday. Mrs Obama announced a new partnership for education in Pakistan as part of the Let Girls Learn initiative that aims to help adolescent girls around the globe attend and complete school.—AP
Washington: US First Lady Michelle Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Safdar pictured at an event in the Blue Room of the White House here on Thursday. Mrs Obama announced a new partnership for education in Pakistan as part of the Let Girls Learn initiative that aims to help adolescent girls around the globe attend and complete school.—AP

WASHINGTON: US First Lady Michelle Obama’s office announced on Thursday that Pakistan has agreed to double spending for education, from two per cent to four per cent of GDP by 2018.

In return, the First Lady on Thursday announced a $70 million additional contribution to educate adolescent girls in Pakistan.

Her office said that Pakistan would also enrol more girls in school and provide more female teachers.

Also read: Pakistan shows modest improvement in standard of education, says report

Earlier on Thursday, the First Lady welcomed Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif and Ms Maryam Nawaz Sharif to the White House. The two visiting dignitaries came to the official residence of the US president to express their support for Mrs Obama’s programme, the “Let Girls Learn” initiative.

First Lady Michelle Obama, Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif, spouse of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, right, and her daughter Maryam Safdar, center, arrive for an event in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. —AP
First Lady Michelle Obama, Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif, spouse of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, right, and her daughter Maryam Safdar, center, arrive for an event in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. —AP

At this event in the Blue Room, the First Lady announced a new partnership to further adolescent girls’ education in Pakistan. Students from the Washington Performing Arts Society Children’s Choir also performed at the ceremony.

The US president and first lady launched the “Let Girls Learn” initiative this year to help more than 60 million girls worldwide who don’t attend school and they have asked world leaders to join the effort.

Pakistan joined South Korea, the United Kingdom and Japan in announcing steps to further girls’ education.

“I’m proud to announce that, building on Pakistan’s commitment to double education spending...the US will be investing $70 million to educate adolescent girls in Pakistan,” she said.

Mrs Obama, who began her remarks with an As-salaam alaikum, noted that the additional funding would allow organisers to build more than a dozen new schools and rehabilitate hundreds of others in Pakistan.

“We’re going to be setting up health screenings for thousands of girls to ensure they’re getting the medical care they need,” she said.

Mrs Obama said her programme would also funded skills-training programmes and college scholarships for girls.

“Taken together, these efforts will reach 200,000 girls in Pakistan. I’m going to say that again – that’s 200,000 girls,” she said.

“That is 200,000 girls who will have a chance to fulfil their promise – just like our daughters have that opportunity – and become the next generation of doctors and teachers and entrepreneurs; the next Mrs Sharifs, the leadership of the country.”

“And that’s 200,000 girls who will one day raise healthier, more educated families of their own.”

She said that this investment represented a major milestone for these girls and for their country.

She said the announcement was part of a much bigger investment in global girls’ education.

Mrs Obama said her programme issued a call to countries across the globe to join it in investing or increasing their investment in girls’ education.

And when they did Pakistan was among the countries that responded.

She noted that in just past eight months, countries across the globe had pledged nearly $800 million to this cause. That includes nearly $350 million from Japan, nearly $200 million from a partnership between the UK and the US, and $200 million from South Korea.

“So in addition to those 200,000 girls in Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of girls worldwide will finally have a chance to get the education they deserve,” the First Lady said.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2015

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