ISLAMABAD: The Norwegian government has approved funding worth 13.5 million kroner for a project of Unesco-Pakistan aimed at promoting girls’ education in three additional districts in the country.

The Norwegian assistance will strengthen the existing Girls’ Lower Secondary Education Programme (GLSEP) and extend its scope to Mohmand, the newly-merged tribal district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Muzaffargarh and Tharparkar.

Currently, Norway is supporting the GLSEP projects in the districts of Swat and Kohistan. Considering the low transition of girls’ from primary to secondary level due to multiple reasons, the Norwegian support has significant importance to facilitate girls’ post-primary education in Pakistan, the Unesco office in Islamabad announced on Friday.

An agreement for additional funding was signed in Islamabad by Norwegian Ambassador Kjell-Gunner Eriksen and Unesco Representative in Pakistan Patricia McPhillips.

With the additional funding, 112 additional girls’ lower secondary schools including 20 schools from Mohmand district, 30 from Muzaffargarh and 62 from Tharparkar will come under the purview of the Norwegian programme. The schools in Tharparkar will consist of twelve for girls and 50 as co-education.

With 46 girls’ schools in Kohistan and Swat, the total coverage of schools under the Norwegian programme will now be 158 girls and co-education lower secondary schools in five target districts.

In addition to Kohistan and Swat districts, the GLSEP in the three newly added districts will supplement its support in the transition of girls from primary to lower secondary education, through local and institutional interventions targeting multiple stakeholders including education officials, school management committees, community leaders, teachers and parents.

Speaking on the occasion, Norwegian Ambassador Eriksen appreciated Unesco’s consistent support and stated that the promotion of girls’ education is a priority for Norwegian programme support in Pakistan. “The GLSEP is one of the biggest programmes of Norway in Pakistan, which is a testimony to our shared aspirations of winning the common goal of promoting girls’ education in the marginalised areas of the country.”

The Unesco-Pakistan representative has commended the additional contribution of the Norwegian government, and said that “huge numbers of girls are dropping out after the completion of primary education in Pakistan, particularly in the remotes areas, which is a serious issue”.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2020