Chief Minister launches PKR 4.5 billion education programme in Balochistan thanks to support from the European Union and UNICEF
QUETTA, 24 November 2021 – Today Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudus Bizenjo launched Balochistan Education Support (BESII), a five-year education development programme aiming to improve quality education and support and strengthen education management systems in Pakistan’s South Western province.
The €22 million (PKR4.5 billion) programme will be implemented by the Department of Secondary Education in Balochistan thanks to a €17.4 million (PKR 3.5 Billion) grant from the European Union and €4.8 million (PKR 1 billion) co-financing from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which will also provide technical support.
“This Government will prioritize implementation of the five-year Balochistan Education Sector Plan and provision of basic facilities to all schools. We appreciate the EU and UNICEF for their sustained support to education in Balochistan,” said Mir Abdul Qadus Bizenjo, Balochistan Chief Minister.
BESII builds on the overall education reforms which the Department of Education has initiated in view of providing quality education for every girl and boy. It will contribute to the overall objective of improving literacy, numeracy, skills and qualifications in Balochistan by improving equitable access to quality primary and middle-level education for every girl and boy. It will also help the Secondary Education Department increase accountability, reporting and transparency.
“The Ministry of Education welcomes the support of all donors for the implementation of sector reforms and is very grateful for the long-term support by the EU. The Government will ensure merit-based teacher appointments, so students receive a quality education,” said Mr. Naseebullah Marri, Minister of Education in Balochistan.
BESII comes as a follow up to the five-year Balochistan Basic Education Programme (BBEP) initiated in 2016 with a €18 million grant from the European Union. The programme helped achieve substantial progress despite widespread school closures linked to COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. To make up for the academic time lost due to pandemic, additional activities have been included in BESII. These include training of teachers on Standard Operative Procedures (SoPs) for school health and safety, tailoring enrolment drives to ensure that children return to education and providing alternatives for children who drop out due to economic impact of the crises.
“Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, continues to face serious challenges in the area of education. The EU is delighted to partner with UNICEF and the Government of Balochistan for a second phase of the Balochistan Education Support Programme and to support targeted areas of its education sector plan, to ensure that all children fully realise their right to quality education,” said Mr. Ovidiu Mic, EU Head of Cooperation. “Human capital development is among the key policy priorities of the EU, globally and in Pakistan and we hope that together we can have a real impact in improving the lives and chances of girls and boys in Balochistan with this programme.”
BES II will build on BBEP’s achievements such as a new performance management system; the newly established Balochistan Assessment and Examination Commission; strengthened and expanded parent-teacher school management committees, local education councils and school development process.
“Nearly 23 million children in Pakistan are out-of-school today. Among those who are in school, many are still unable to reach minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics,” said Ms. Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. “Thanks to the leadership of the Government of Balochistan, and through generous support from the European Union, UNICEF will work together on tackling the learning crisis to prepare every girl and boy in Balochistan for life, work and active citizenship, with a focus on the most marginalized children and adolescents.”
The EU’s support on primary and secondary education is a priority area under the EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan, which serves as guide for bilateral relations between the two sides and aims to further enhance engagement and work towards addressing emerging global challenges.
Chief, Advocacy and Communications
Abdul Sami Malik