Islamabad: The UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell is in Pakistan this week to see innovative new approaches to get more children in to school, help more poor people to access financial services, and improve the health and avert deaths of women and children.
Visiting a school for poor students in Karachi today, he said:
“Pakistan faces an education emergency. Half the country’s adults can’t read or write; more than a third of primary school aged children are not in school; and the population is expected to increase by half again in the next twenty years. If educated, healthy, and working, this youth offers a vast mine of talent and productivity; a huge demographic dividend that will unlock Pakistan’s potential on the global stage. But if this surging youth population are not educated or able to find work, Pakistan will face serious problems in the future. That’s why education is the UK’s top priority, and why we’ll help get more than four million children in to school in Pakistan by 2015.”
The UK International Development Secretary also visited an ‘Easypaisa’ branchless bank in Karachi today, where he said:
“In Pakistan more than half the adult population, and two-thirds of women, do not have bank accounts or access to financial services. That’s why the UK supported the use of innovative mobile phone technology to empower poor people to pay bills and transfer money to their families in rural villages, and the UK will help further expand it to three million more people over the next few years.”
Yesterday the UK International Development Secretary met with the Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani, President Zardari, Chief Ministers, plus a range of senior government officials, politicians, and business people. He also visited Bhara kahu Rural Health Centre near Islamabad, where he met mothers having their babies vaccinated against diseases including diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, Hib, and hepatitis-b. These vaccines are funded by GAVI global immunisation programme, which the UK is a major supporter of, and which helps protect millions of children in Pakistan every year.
The UK recently outlined its aid plans for Pakistan for the next four years, which includes getting four million more children in to school, preventing 3,600 women’s deaths in childbirth, and getting two million more people to vote at the next general election.
Andrew Mitchell, UK Secretary of State for International Development said:
“The UK has deep and enduring historic, family and business ties with Pakistan. That’s why we are committed to working in partnership with Pakistan for the long-term, to help millions of people lift themselves out of poverty, and to help Pakistan to grow in stability, prosperity, and good governance.”
By 2015, if the Government of Pakistan makes progress on reform and results, UK aid will help achieve the following:
• Education: Get over four million more children into school; recruit and train 90,000 new teachers; provide more than six million text book sets; and construct or rebuild more than 43,000 classrooms.
• Health: Prevent 3,600 mothers dying in childbirth; prevent half a million children from becoming under nourished; and save the lives of 110,000 children, including 44,000 newborns, by expanding basic health services at community level.
• Economy: Help another 1.5 million poor people, more than half of them women, access microfinance loans to enable them to set up their own business and lift themselves out of poverty; expand branchless banking so that another three million poor people can access financial services from their mobile phones; provide job and skills training for 125,000 people in the Punjab; and enable 75,000 rural dairy farmers to increase their income.
• Democracy and governance: Get another two million people, half of them women, to vote at the next general election; provide legal aid to 5,000 women; work with the Government to strengthen weak budgeting, auditing and management to improve delivery of public services; improve policing and access to justice, and provide 66 bridge kits and reconstruct 40 schools in the areas bordering Afghanistan to replace those destroyed by conflict.
• Women and girls: Women and girls are at the centre of everything UK aid does. The UK will get some two million more girls into school; prevent 3,600 women dying in childbirth; help 400,000 couples choose how many children they have; help around 900,000 women access financial services such as micro-loans; and support legislation protecting women including on land rights, marriage rights and domestic violence.
• In addition, the UK will continue to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance when needed, as it did in response to the devastating floods in 2010 and earthquake in 2005.
For more information, contact:
British High Commission
Tel: +9251 201 2000