Written by Abeera Ahmed
Photos credits: Syed Abdullah Hameed, Mardan/Humqadam
On Thursday 9 November 2017, the Right Honourable Mark Field MP, UK Minister for Asia and the Pacific, inaugurated the school construction programme at Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School Shahbaz Garhi (GGHSS), District Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The school received 14 new classrooms, 11 new toilets, 3 science labs, a computer lab, and an exam hall.
Mr. Field was accompanied by Ms. Joanna Reid, Head of DFID Pakistan, Ms. Emma Leahey, Acting Deputy Head of the Australian High Commission, and Mr. Atif Khan, Education Minister KP. The guests were welcomed with enthusiasm and energy by students and teachers at the school. Mr. Isfundiar Kasuri, Deputy Team Leader Humqadam SCRP, briefed the chief guests on Humqadam-SCRP portfolio as they walked to the school new academic block. The MP was led to a well-lit newly built classroom where young girls were taking a science lesson.
Mr Field then toured the rehabilitated block where he interacted with the Better Environment School Team (BEST members) – a Humqadam supported WASH initiative - at GGHSS Shahbaz Garhi .. Surprising students with his pre-knowledge of BEST, the Chief Guest quizzed the BEST members with a volley of questions, which they answered with vigour. Inspired with the idea of BEST, the MP was offered an honorary BEST membership, on accepting this he took the oath and was presented BEST member kit. The Chief Guest also visited the Computer and Physics labs and watched young students performing science experiments.
The MP formally inaugurated GGHSS Shahbaz Gahri by cutting the ribbon and unveiling the plaque. The occasion underscored the importance of girls’ education, while signaling to the young students the value of education.
Echoing similar opinions, the Education Minister KP, Atif Khan, appreciated the continued support by the UK government, Australian government, and IMC worldwide through Humqadam SCRP to provide improved school infrastructure across the province in an effort to foster safe, secure and inclusive learning culture.
GGHSS Shahbaz Garhi, is is one of 202 Higher Secondary Schools in the province which have been identified to undergo infrastructure improvement under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Sector Programme (KESP) - a collaborative effort between UK aid, Australian Aid, and the provincial governments to improved learning outcomes. Being one of the only girls’ higher secondary schools in the area, GGHSS Shahbaz Garhi holds a salient position within the communityPre-existing 10 classrooms and only 4 student toilets were nearly not enough to accommodate the students as the student to classroom ratio was at an all-time high of 100:1 far from the ideal classroom size.
So far 21 schools have been completed and 53 are under construction at present. More than 2000 new classrooms are being built to transform the educational experience for thousands of young girls and boys into a joyful learning opportunity. Across 9 Districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa namely: Charsadda, Mardan, Peshawar, Kohat, Nowshera, Lower Dir, Abbottabad, Haripur and Chitral); Humqadam-SCRP is engaged in school construction and rehabilitation programme to bring vulnerable children to school and promote girls’ education.
Humqadam-SCRP is the largest UK Aid infrastructure programme in the world, with significant contribution by Australian Aid in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Humqadam-SCRP aims to improve infrastructure in government schools in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and as of June 2017 Humqadam has constructed 1,151 new classrooms and rehabilitated 881 classrooms in 392 schools. The programme is a part of the £420 million Punjab Education Support Programme (PESP) II and the £283 million Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Sector Programme (KESP), large and ambitious programmes which represent a collaborative effort between DFID, Australian Aid, and the provincial governments to result in more children in school and better learning outcomes.