RAWALPINDI: The Education Emergency Initiative is a promising first step and if Pakistan fulfills its commitment to double education spending over the next five years, it could change the trajectory of millions of girls’ lives for the better.

This was stated by acting chief executive officer of Malala Fund Lena Alfi in a statement.

She went on to say that Malala Fund looked forward to monitoring progress of all commitments made to girls alongside “our local partners and civil society”.

More than 26 million children in Pakistan are out of school and to help tackle this crisis, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced a new education emergency plan, which the Malala Fund has welcomed.

Through the emergency initiative, the Pakistani government aims to make significant reductions to the overall number of children who are out of school. In a directive released from the Prime Minister’s Office, the government has committed to allocating at least Rs25 billion to education over the next five years.

This includes a commitment to increase its education budget from 1.7pc to 4pc of the GDP.

The directive also included commitments to fast track teacher recruitment and support the development and expansion of nutritional, financial literacy, and science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) programming for students.

This announcement comes at a critical moment for schoolchildren in Pakistan. Last week’s bombing of a girls’ school in North Waziristan was a stark reminder of the need to take urgent action to protect the right to education and combat the rising ideological and violent threats to girls’ rights, the statement said, adding that in Pakistan, 12 million girls are out of school, and only 13pc advance to grade 9. At the existing rate, it would take the country another half century to enroll all girls in school.

Ms Alfi said Malala Fund wanted to help speed up progress, adding that since 2017, the Fund had invested more than $12 million in local activists and organisations who were driving solutions to the education barriers girls in their communities face.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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