British HC, minister discuss opportunities in edu sector


British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ms Jane Marriott, here on Thursday called on the Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui to discuss the challenges and opportunities being faced by the country in the education sector.
The meeting was attended by the Secretary of Education Mr Mohyuddin Wani and the Country Director British Council Mr James Hampson. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that the Ministry of Education is working on a programme that aims to declare education emergency in Pakistan.
He said that the number of out-of-school children in Pakistan is ballooning and the only way to address this issue is by making it a national agenda. The minister said that due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation slums in major cities are propping up.
He said that these slums are ignored in every education policy. He highlighted the importance of ensuring that no child should be left behind. He encouraged the UK to provide support in the cause of eliminating out-of-school children.
We need to bring all the stakeholders especially donors on the same platform so that all the effort can be channelled and streamlined, he added. “We are burning the midnight oil in ensuring that the cause of education becomes one of the main agendas of national effort towards progress”.
Ms Jane Marriott, British High Commissioner to Pakistan said that UK and Pakistan are the oldest partners and have been shoulder to shoulder since 1947. She informed the minister that the UK encourages expansion of its green programme which can lead to an increase in enrolment of Pakistani students in UK universities via distance learning.
She also informed the minister that Google Education is highly interested in supporting Pakistan in its bid to address the issue of access to education. British High Commissioner and the education minister also discussed the challenges and opportunities that come with the devolution of education to the provinces.
Secretary of Education Mr Mohyuddin Wani highlighted that the Ministry of Education is developing a comprehensive plan which will declare an education emergency in the country and will furthermore align all the stakeholders on the same page.
He said that all the donors and NGOs operating in Pakistan are working in silos and compartments. He said that there is a concerted effort on the way to ensure that a single platform can align and channel the efforts of all stakeholders in the education sector of Pakistan.
Khalid Maqbool said that we have set a target to train one million youth in the IT sector. He said that he hopes that in the medium term, Pakistan will become one of the biggest suppliers of IT professionals to the world.
He asked the UK to help in attaining IT certification for this IT-trained professional that would be recognised globally. Furthermore, he said that the mental health of our students must be also catered to by professionals.
He said that the education ministry aims to establish mental health awareness and support desks in all of the colleges in Islamabad. He said that efforts have been underway to address the education woes of Pakistan however, more effort and more focus is still required.
He told the British High Commissioner that a National Nutrition Program in Islamabad has also been launched to increase enrolment. He said that expense on education is not expenditure but investment.
James Hompson, Country Director British Council told the minister that after China the biggest British Council Programme is in Pakistan. He requested the minister that the Global Chief Executive of the British Council visit Pakistan in May and would like to visit him.
The Federal Minister welcomed the initiative from the British Council and expressed a deep desire to enhance collaboration between the British Council and Pakistan, especially concerning increasing educational outreach programmes for slums in the metropolitan cities of the country.