16 January 2003 Thursday 12 Ziqa'ad 1423
By Ihtasham ul Haque

Euro 71 million for Pakistan okayed

ISLAMABAD, Jan 15: The European Commission (EC) has approved euro 71 million for Pakistan to develop a three-year National Indicative Programme (NIP) in the education sector.

Prior to its approval by the EC, which is the executive arm of the European Union (EU), the NIP was endorsed by the Government of Pakistan and the EU member states.

With a budget of euro 71 million (Rs4.3 billion) for the period 2003-2005, the National Indicative Programme focuses on improving Pakistan's development in the education sector with special emphasis on good governance and accountability in the provision of education services in Sindh and Northern Areas.

Trade development and promotion of business and institutional links to help integration of Pakistan in the world trade system and trade sector policy formulation and institutional reforms are also objectives of the EC assistance.

According to local EU office, from the 71 million euro budget, a major contribution of 59 million euro, has been allocated for improving the education sector, six million for promoting EU- Pakistan trade related activities, five million euro for combating child labour and one million for fighting drugs abuse.

In the education sector the main objective of the NIP is to eliminate widespread gender disparity in literacy and enrolment rates across the provinces, and reduce the high dropout rates at primary level besides improving the competence of the teachers and developing teaching material.

The NIP envisages to achieve these objectives with close coordination with the provincial governments and the National Commission on Human Development (NCHD).

The Sindh Education project with an amount of euro 39 million aims at supporting the Sindh government in implementing a component of the compulsory Primary Education Ordinance 2001 in 16 districts of Sindh.

The goal is to increase by 60 per cent the enrolment of boys and girls at primary level, aged 5-9 who are out of schools at present.

In the Northern Areas, an education project with the Aga Khan Foundation worth euro 20 million, is part of the NIP strategy to help increase the number of education centres and qualified women available in developmental activities. Besides, the NIP's objective is to improve the human resources in the education sector in close collaboration with local authorities and communities.