Peshawar: The present government of the KP province aims to accelerate expansion of educational opportunities for the girls and disadvantaged groups of the society, and education budget will be doubled from the next financial year to achieve EFA Goals, stated Sardar Hussain Babak, provincial Education Minister while delivering inaugural address at the Seminar on Early Childhood Education here in Peshawar. Education indicators in KP are low due to certain historical reasons and geo-political factors, including impact of insurgency in neighbouring country of Afghanistan, burden of 3 million Afghan refugees, and extremism leading to destruction of schools in different parts of the province, explained Babak.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, UNESCO Representative to Pakistan, congratulated Govt. of the KP and Education Minister, Sardar Hussain Babak, on the announcement of doubling the education budget in the next financial year. She indicated that KP was the first province which prepared Education For All (EFA) Plan way back in 2003, which later on provided basis for the preparation of Education Sector Plan. Emphasizing the crucial role of early childhood education, Dr. Nagata pointed out that wider exposure of people in KP and diversity of languages spoken here, children and young people in this part of the country are more capable of learning foreign languages and their intelligence level is enhanced, comparatively.
About one third children in KP province are out of school and 71% rural women are illiterate, informed Arshad Saeed Khan, Senior National Specialist (Education) of UNESCO during his presentation. Based on the past trends, KP province is not likely to achieve EFA Goals by 2015, unless extra ordinary steps are taken to speed up the momentum, predicted Arshad Khan. Early Childhood Education is first of the six Goals of EFA, whereas conditions of learning in Katchi classes at government schools are dismal, pointed out UNESCO expert.
Education Minister, Mr. Sardar Hussain Babak appreciated UNESCO for its assistance for promotion of EFA and ECE in KP, and also acknowledged generous support of other donors to KP like DFID, EU, and Norway. About 100 educationists from various districts and representatives of donors and INGOs attended this Seminar. Participants of the Seminar evolved a set of recommendations and a road map for scaling up and institutionalization of ECE and up grading learning conditions in Katchi classes in the province. Seminar was organized by KP Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in collaboration with UNESCO.