Unesco Assistant Secretary General (Education) Qian Tang called on Minister of State for Education, Training and Higher Education Standards and discussed with him modalities for the making functional Malala Fund for Girls’ right to education.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Education Training and Standards Ahmed Bakhsh Lehri, Unesco PARIS Ms Hayashikawa, Director in Pakistan Dr Kozue Kay Nagata and Roshan Chitrakar.

On the occasion, the representatives proposed that improvement in the quality of education of girls should be the central focus of activities undertaken by the Unesco from this fund. It was also proposed that a few model school/technical and vocational training centres for girls can be established from this fund.

Speaking on the occasion, the minister stressed the need for attracting more donors globally for Malala Fund geared towards girls education. He also emphasized the need for reduction in operational and transactional costs. The fund would be used in line with current government policy on education called National Action Plan which has been finalised by the Federal Govt and has been sent to provinces, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan and their response is awaited.

Out of the Rs10 million contribution made by Pakistan (US 07 million) may be placed as a fund in trust which will be used, advised and approved by Pakistan. The remaining $3 million would be used as a special fund that can be used by the Unesco.

About 80 percent of the fund would be used for formal education and 20 percent would be used to support non-formal education like BECS and NCHD. The areas for that fund have been identified as Balochistan, Interior Sindh, Southern Punjab, KPK, FATA, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. The minister termed Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in Pakistan as areas of preference for spending the global component of the fund.

Benazir Income Support Programme: Hundreds of women beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme have deprived of cash support so far and it is feared that further delay in the transfer of money will affect Eid preparations of these poor families.

The previous government has started the Benazir Income Support Programme with a view to support the poor household women and Benazir Cards were issued for the provision of money to the deserving women according to which Rs3,000 has been given to beneficiaries after three months through ATM Machines. However, after the establishment of new government, the name of the programme was changed and cash support was issued last month to card holders. However, due to some departmental mistakes, hundreds of card holder women in District Rahim Yar Khan are deprived of the support money.

The card holder women told the media that they had attempted to draw cash from ATM several times but the amount was not transferred into their accounts. They regretted that the Eid was around the corner and further delay in the transfer of support cash would spoil their Eidul Fitr joys.

They demanded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take notice of the injustice and order release of monthly cash support to the beneficiaries so they could celebrate Eid in fervour.