Peshawar, April 18, 2016 (PPI-OT):The UN Refugee Agency and the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have enhanced school enrolment ratio in the province by creating space for additional 5,000 children and improving learning conditions for over 10,000 children already attending schools through the United Nations’ Refugee Affected and Hosting Area (RAHA) initiative.
Funded by the German Government through Germany’s Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau Development Bank (KfW), UNHCR together with the Secretary of Ministry of States and Frontiers Regions (SAFRON); Mr. Muhammad Shehzad Arbab, Commissionerate for Afghan Refugee; Provincial Education Minister, Mr. Muhammad Atif Khan and the German Ambassador to Pakistan, HE Ms. Ina Lepel inaugurated a newly-constructed Government Primary School (GPS.3) in Hayatabad this Monday.
The GPS.3 School is one of the 31 primary public schools which UNHCR has rehabilitated through partner agencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province under RAHA education interventions. In education sector alone, through RAHA, a total of 12 projects worth PKR 277 million funded by the Federal Republic of Germany (through KfW) and the Government of United States, have so far been implemented and handed over to the provincial Education Department. All the schools that have been renovated and upgraded are located in deprived areas where Afghan refugees live side by side with the local population.
Speaking at the occasion, provincial Education Minister, Muhammad Atif Khan, said the provincial government has been focused on Education and Health sectors from the start. The Minister added that, “the education sector has been completely revamped through significant budget allocation and we are getting closer to achieving our goal of improving literacy rates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We are extremely grateful to the international community for supporting this important cause and fully acknowledge the fact that education is the right of every child regardless of their race, religion or nationality, whether Afghan or Pakistani.”
In her address the Honourable German Ambassador to Pakistan, Her Excellency Ms. Ina Lepel appreciated the efforts made by UNHCR and the Government counterparts to realize this important project. She also underlined the need to support the communities which have been hosting Afghan refugees for so many years now along with the refugees themselves. The improvement of living conditions regarding education, health and community infrastructure was a key concern to German development cooperation.
Addressing the audience, UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, Indrika Ratwatte reaffirmed UNHCR’s commitment to enhance capacity of the provincial government in education sector. He appreciated the provincial government’s efforts for allowing Afghan refugee children access to government (public) schools alongside Pakistani children. He stressed that such an initiative was in line with the Government’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4) which warrants inclusive and equitable education for all.
He further added that “investment in Pakistani and Afghan youth equals to investment in resilience, empowerment, stability and future of both countries, and is as such a strategic priority of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and the RAHA initiative, spearheaded by the Government of Pakistan.” The Headmaster of school, Mubarak Hussain said, “There is no other school in this area so with the construction of this school, working class families now have a proper facility where their children can receive free education.”
The project, worth around PKR 14 million was implemented by UNHCR partner, Holistic Understanding for Justified Research and Action (HUJRA), a local NGO. The main project components included construction of the entire school building comprising 08 classrooms, 07 latrines, boundary wall, provision of a water tank and playground equipment and mobilization and capacity building of the school’s Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs).
The event was also attended by senior government officials of the Afghan Refugee Commissionerate and the Education and P and D Departments; Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Amjad Ali Khan; Additional Chief Secretary Planning and Development Department KP, Azam Khan; Commissioner Peshawar, Dr. Fakhr-e-Alam; Secretary P and D Department, Zafar Ali Shah; Head of UNHCR Sub-Office Peshawar, Oscar Mundia and other senior officials from UN agencies, UNHCR partner organizations and members of the school’s PTAs and school students.
The multi-year RAHA programme was launched in 2009 with the support of the Pakistan government, a consortium of UN agencies, a number of Government organisations and nongovernmental organisations. The initiative aims at supporting refugee hosting communities by provision of enhanced access to quality services in the sectors of education, health, water and sanitation, and livelihoods across the country. To date, more than 10.6 million people (11 per cent Afghan refugees and 89 per cent Pakistani citizens) have benefited from some 3,500 projects implemented across the country with a total cost of approximately USD 175 million.
For more information, contact:
Duniya Aslam Khan
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Quaid-e-Azam University Road, Diplomatic Enclave 2,
Sector G-4/2, Islamabad