ISLAMABAD: Experts stressed on the need for immediate measures to recover the loss of learning during floods and develop a flood-resilient education system to prevent disruption to education in such calamities.

They were gathered at the launch of a report on the post-flood education situation in Pakistan, ‘Towards a Resilient Education Recovery from Pakistan’s Floods - Rapid Response Research’ published by Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) in collaboration with Education Champion Network (ECN).

According to a statement, a policy discussion also took place on the sidelines of the launch organised by PCE in collaboration with the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Malala Fund and ECN. The report highlighted several issues that include a lack of emergency response planning within the education system and a lack of focus on widespread learning poverty among students.

The report calls for rigorous coordination between the district, federal and provincial governments for recovering learning losses and enhancing the educational infrastructure in Pakistan.

The initial findings from this research have been incorporated into the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Government of Pakistan and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) plan, ‘Pakistan Floods 2022: Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework (4RF)’ in the section on education.

Speaking on the occasion, Additional Secretary Waseem Ajmal said: “The 2022 floods have been devastating for Pakistan’s development. In education, 3.6 million children were affected and over 34,000 schools were damaged or destroyed. All education departments are now working towards ensuring that education continues for those children affected by the floods, and this week the minister will address the ‘Education Cannot Wait for High-Level Financing Conference’ in Geneva to advocate for increased support for children affected by floods in Pakistan.”

“Several districts across Pakistan that were affected by last year’s catastrophic floods are the same as where massive flooding occurred in 2010 and 2011.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that any meaningful measures were taken during the decade between these two calamities to protect against disruption in children’s education during times of emergency,” PCE Executive Director Zehra Arshad said.

“To structure an effective response to educational needs, this important report asks for using rapid response mechanisms like a public-private partnership to help build schools at a faster pace and more importantly to ensure that all girls and boys who had to experience major learning losses can rapidly keep up with learning,” said Javed Malik, programme director, Malala Fund Pakistan office.

The author of the report, Dr Moizza Binat Sarwar said: “The rebuilding of damaged or destroyed infrastructure/schools has been the main strategy of education recovery. While this is important, evidence shows that merely building new brick-and-mortar buildings has had no significant impact on curtailing school drop-outs or improving learning outcomes.”

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2023

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