Denmark Provides USD 11 Million to UNICEF Pakistan Country Programme

Islamabad: The Government of Denmark will provide USD 11 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support its on-going five-year Country Programme (2013-17) in Pakistan.

This was announced by the Ambassador of Denmark, Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen, during a ceremony held Thursday at the Government Higher Secondary School for Boys in Peshawar.

The Chief Guest on the occasion, Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Muhammad Atif said that primary education, especially for girls, is the priority for the provincial government and it is committed to reduce the gender gap in current enrolment which stands at 70 percent boys and 30 per cent girls.

He further said that education is the only thing that can bring a positive change in the society and it is also the solution to many of the problems we face.

Thanking the Government and people of Denmark for their generous contribution to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA through UNICEF’s country programme, the minister said that the KP government is focused on increasing enrolment, retention, teacher training, Information Technology and establishing a system which would reward teachers who show outstanding performance.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Sorensen stated that Denmark has been providing development assistance to Pakistan since 2010 with a strong emphasis on promoting primary education – especially girls’ education – in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and FATA.

Highlighting the importance of education for social and economic progress, Ambassador Sorensen said, “It is estimated that if all children in developing countries could read, global poverty would drop by 12 percent and – more significantly – every time a girl receives just one additional year of education, her wage would increase by 15-20 percent. This has a huge socio-economic impact for families and for the whole society.”

“The Government of Pakistan has announced an increase in the education budget for the coming years. It intends to double the share of GDP that goes to education from 2 to 4 percent.

This is a step in the right direction, and we fully support this goal. Along with our partners’ support, we want UNICEF to reach its overall goal of working with the Government of Pakistan to ensure that additional 1,200,000 children have access to basic quality education by the end of year 2016”.

The Danish grant will help UNICEF support activities related to education; water, sanitation and hygiene in schools; health and nutrition; and child protection programmes in mainly Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

“We are grateful to the Government and people of Demark for this critical support to the Country Programme which could not have come at a more appropriate time,” said Dan Rohrmann, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan.

“Investing in children is investing in the future of the country and with a focus on education the opportunities for the children to access quality education will without a doubt contribute to the development and growth of Pakistan.

“This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the important event today can be cast in the collective effort to realise children’s rights and make a special effort for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children for whom we need to guarantee equal rights. The Danish support in combination with the UN programme in Pakistan will go a long way in helping us achieve that objective.”

UNICEF’s Country Programme, developed in close consultation with the Government of Pakistan, provincial governments and other development partners is part of the Common Country Programme within the United Nations One Programme (II) and focuses on reaching the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the country.

It is guided by internationally agreed development targets, including Millennium Development Goals, as well as United Nations treaties and other international instruments.

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