Education Cannot Wait Announces US$13.2 Million Catalytic Grant to Support Education for the Most Vulnerable Children and Adolescents in Pakistan

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The new funding will support a Multi-Year Resilience Programme delivered in partnership with the Government of Pakistan and consortia led by UNICEF, Voluntary Service Overseas and the Rural Support Programmes Network


31 December 2021, New York – An estimated 22.8 million children are out of school in Pakistan, the second highest in the world. To address these pressing needs, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN’s global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, announced today US$13.2 million in new catalytic grant funding for a visionary Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Pakistan.

Delivered with the Government of Pakistan by three complementary consortia led by UNICEFVoluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and the Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN), the new three-year programme seeks to mobilize US$46.8 million in additional funding.

The ECW seed funding grant will reach 155,000 children and adolescents. In reaching the most vulnerable and marginalized, 60% of beneficiaries are girls and 12% are children with disabilities.

“This is one of the largest education crises in the world today,” said ECW Director Yasmine Sherif. “The interconnected challenges of COVID-19 and climate change, coupled with the impacts of the new arrivals of Afghans seeking refuge in Pakistan, are pushing resources to their limits. Millions of girls and boys are pushed away from the safety and protection of education. We need to rise to this challenge to support these new arrivals to access equitable quality education. Together with our partners, we are calling on leaders to fully fund this multi-year joint education programme in Pakistan.”

The Joint Secretary of International Coordination of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training of Pakistan, Waseem Ajmal Chaudhary said: “The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MoFEPT) appreciates the support of Education Cannot Wait in providing technical and financial support to Pakistan’s education system during these hard times as the pandemic negatively affects our education. We hope these funds will play a catalytic role in increasing the resilience of the education system across the country. MoFEPT, along with provincial education departments, will spare no effort to ensure smooth and effective implementation of the ECW-funded component of the Multi-Year Resilience Programme 2022-2024.”

“The selection of Pakistan to receive funds from Education Cannot Wait under the MYRP 2022-2024 is indeed a major step to address education related challenges in the country, especially the 22.8 million out-of-school children. Highly appreciative of the contribution from ECW, UNICEF remains focused on enrolment of out-of-school children in the country,” said Dr. Inoussa Kabore, the UNICEF Pakistan Representative/O.I.C. “ECW funds can help Pakistan address long-term needs related to access, equity, gender equality, continuity, protection and quality in the education sector. UNICEF, with its lead role in coordination, and a footprint at federal and provincial level, will work with its partners at all levels to ensure that planned results under the MYRP are achieved.”

The CEO of RSPN, Shandana Khan, said: “Children in Pakistan face issues in accessing school only because there are a limited number of schools in far flung rural areas and these schools are not equipped with high-quality learning facilities. The limited number of secondary schools – especially for girls – results in huge drop-out for girls that is leading to early marriages. RSPN believes that this Education Cannot Wait investment is an opportunity to reach out-of-school children in emergency-affected areas and refugee children.”

Hashim Bilal, the Country Director of VSO Pakistan, said: “Pakistan ranks second in the world with almost 22.8 million out-of-school children. The COVID-19 pandemic, poverty and inflation pose additional challenges by changing the priorities of parents who opt not to send their children to school as a negative coping strategy. The situation is worse for the marginalized people living in poverty, refugees and minorities. The launch of the MYRP in Pakistan in the prevailing situation offers a glimmer of hope for those children who are denied their fundamental right to education. We believe that this MYRP journey will not stop here and will continue by synergizing the efforts of the Government of Pakistan, UN, donors, our implementing local partners and volunteer workforce, to educate every child and leave no one behind.”

Understanding the Education Crisis

While Pakistan is making notable headway in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, only 57% of children are able to attend primary school, and just three out of ten make it on to secondary education.

Gender inequities are present across much of the education system. An estimated 12.2 million girls are out of school, compared to 10.7 million boys. Girls that are lucky enough to attend school have a much higher dropout rate. About 20% of girls drop out of school after the sixth grade – that also leads to early age marriages and teenage pregnancies.

COVID-19 impacted over 42 million learners in Pakistan. As the nation looks to rebuild, this profound learning loss is having a lasting effect on the futures of millions of girls and boys that may never return to a classroom, and now face additional risks of abuse, neglect, hunger and gender-based violence.

The ECW-financed MYRP will ensure improved access to quality education for the most vulnerable out-of-school girls and boys, including Afghan refugees and other children affected by the crisis. In providing “whole-of-child” solutions, the investment will ensure that target beneficiaries have access to protective interventions that improve both their mental and physical well-being. The programme will also improve learning environments by ensuring safety and inclusivity for all learners, building capacity by working with the national and provincial education authorities to make education systems more resilient, and will work to address the significant barriers girls face in accessing quality and inclusive learning environments.

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