A financial program to help Pakistan’s 6.7 million out-of-school children get an education was announced today by Gordon Brown with a $500 million boost for education, bringing the total global investment in education in Pakistan to more than $1 billion over the next three years.
The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education pledged that as Pakistan’s government doubles its education budget – from two to four per cent of GDP – the global community will partner with Pakistan in financing the biggest education expansion in the country’s history.
The government’s commitment will inject an additional $4.6 billion annually into the education system. When implemented, the project could exceed the targets in Pakistan’s Accelerated Plan of Action, developed with the United Nations, which aims to educate five million out-of-school children by 2015.
The announcements took place at an Education Conference in Islamabad with Prime Minister Sharif and later at a youth rally with 1,000 girls gathering together to demand the right to education.
Mr. Brown said: “The aim is not just to get children into school but also to ensure learning opportunities for more than 55 million people over the age of ten who are illiterate in Pakistan.”
“The large expansion of learning through the government’s investment will help to support opportunity for the Pakistani people.”
Ministers from all of the provinces have agreed to adopt and implement Article 25-A of the Pakistani constitution, making education free and compulsory for all. The support for education was also urged to extend to the 620,000 Afghan refugee children, of whom only 5 per cent complete education.
Alice Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is also part of the visiting delegation. GPE is in the final stages of reviewing a $100 million application to support the education plans of Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan. The United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Dubai Cares, and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah’s Educate A Child initiative are also all contributing to support education for out-of-school children in Pakistan.
The UN Special Envoy encouraged the government to support the right to education. He said: “The government must also take a strong stand on the cross-cutting barriers, including child labor and child marriage, to ensure all children, especially girls, are in school. At a youth rally with 1,000 girl campaigners, I announced the introduction of Pakistan’s first child marriage free zone, led by by Baela Jamil, Director of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA).”
“Today, I also met with business leaders where we agreed to develop a business-led innovative financing fund for education in Pakistan.”