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Pakistan has the second highest number in the world of children out of school (more than 12 million); literacy levels are the third worst in the world (half the adult population and nearly two thirds of women cannot read or write); and population growth risks outstripping any growth in provision of education and training. The education budget as a proportion of GDP is only 2.3%, amongst the lowest in the world. Access to good quality skills training is low, and many children, especially girls, do not complete school or leave lacking the opportunities that high quality teaching, recognised qualifications and English language skills can bring. But alongside this, it is also home to a wealthy and talented elite able to buy private education of a standard comparable to anywhere in the world, a major consumer of British Council’s examinations (some 100,000 O and A levels and professional examinations were delivered in 2013) and British higher education, and with first class research facilities and programmes in some Pakistani universities.
HMG is investing heavily in education and skills in Pakistan. Through the work of DFID and the British Council, we are active across the whole education and skills spectrum.
DFID’s focus on education in Pakistan is well known. DFID is spending £453 million on education in Pakistan from 2011-15, 40% of its overall programme. By 2015 we aim to help put 4 million more children into school; train 90,000 teachers per year and construct more than 20,000 classrooms. The UK’s (£350m) work with the PML-N led Punjab government helped the new federal government to make education a priority (Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said Pakistan aims to increase education spend to 4% of GDP) and has spurred on the other Provinces. DFID now has a major programme with the Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and a smaller but innovative programme working on low cost private schools in Sindh. In both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we have secured commitment both to increase the budget for education and to spend existing money more effectively: in deprived areas and on improving learning outcomes. And through an innovative programme, we have mobilised parents to demand better quality education for children, and helped political leaders to deliver.
Alongside its well established examination programme, the British Council is also investing in schools. Pakistan has the greatest number of O and A level students in the world outside the UK. This reflects not just the reputation of the British education system but also the quality of the equivalent Pakistani qualifications. English language teaching in the state school sector is patchy at best, non-existent at worst. The Council has established an innovative programme (the PEELI support programme) that by 2017 will have trained 300,000 primary teachers of English in Punjab. It also runs school leadership programmes, UK/Pakistan school twinning (58 partnerships exist between UK and Pakistani schools) and has started “Take a Child to School” programmes.
0.2 Higher Education
There is a huge appetite in Pakistan for British higher education. And as well as attracting the brightest and best to apply to British universities, and working with universities and the Higher Education Commission on scholarship programmes, we and the British Council are encouraging greater involvement by UK higher education institutions in Pakistan’s education sector. 118 Pakistani universities have developed partnerships with over 90 universities in the UK and there is increasing scope for British professional and academic qualifications delivered in Pakistan. There is also increasing cooperation and research with Pakistan through research fellowships and exchanges in areas of advanced technology where Pakistan has cutting edge research capabilities. DIFID is also supporting Lahore University of Management Sciences by providing up to 1000 scholarships for post graduate qualifications through the University in the next five years.
The UK is also supporting work to provide vocational skills. In partnership with the Punjab government, DFID has jointly funded a £55million programme providing skills training for 250,000 poor people (40% women and 10% marginalised) and promoted a competitive skills training market. This is linked to programmes to improve access to financial services and markets, helping poor people in Pakistan to lift themselves out of poverty. The British Council is poised to relaunch its “Skills for Employability” programme, a skills programme with Pakistan’s National Authority for Vocational and Technical Education and its provincial equivalents.
0.4 Libraries and Scholarships
There has been widespread delight at the announcement that the British Council is to open libraries with public access in Lahore and Karachi. The announcements we are planning to make during Nawaz Sharif’s visit of the British Council’s plans to open libraries in other cities, create 15 English Resource Centres and provide English language training for 500 Parliamentarians, will be warmly welcomed.
DFID and the British Council are strongly recognised brands . Like them, the Chevening Scholarship scheme demonstrates Britain’s investment in Pakistan’s future. Following our increased effort to promote Chevening through the press, social media and events in major cities, applications for the 2014 scheme grew by 114% and we are aiming for a further increase in 2015. In addition to building the Chevening network, we are also working with the British Council to increase our engagement with British alumni in Pakistan more generally.
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