OSLO: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said despite numerous challenges, Pakistan was giving high priority to education and aimed at increasing public expenditure on education to 4 percent of its GDP by 2018.
In his address during a panel discussion at Oslo Global Summit on Education for Development, the Prime Minister said Pakistan in its quest for universal education during the last decade had braved numerous challenges including devastating earthquakes, floods, terrorism and displacement of refugees.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan in a short time was able to establish schools for displaced people after floods and a massive earthquake.
He said thousands of schools were wiped out during 2005 earthquake, whereas during the 2010 floods, about 9,088 schools were destroyed and 5,790 school buildings were used as shelters.
He said Pakistan had spent millions of rupees on the reconstruction of schools and added that more billions of rupees were required for the rehabilitation of displaced persons back to their home.
The Prime Minister emphasized that children and youth caught in conflicts and humanitarian crisis must not be denied their right to education and said Pakistan continued to provide learning opportunities to Temporarily Displaced Persons during recent war against terrorism in tribal areas.
In Pakistan, he said the government was facilitating schooling in refugee camps and other displacement situations.
The Prime Minister also referred to the 3.5 million refugees from Afghanistan and urged upon the international community to enhance humanitarian funding for education.
The Prime Minister called for giving purpose-oriented education to children and equipping youth with technical and vocational skills for jobs and businesses.
He also stressed focus to be laid on teachers’ training, curriculum development and educational technologies.
He said though education was now a provincial subject, but the federal government was acting as an influential catalyst to promote education in all parts of the country.
The Prime Minister said the provincial governments in Pakistan were now spending more on education.
Other panelists included Elias Bou Saab, Minister for Education of Lebanon; Malcolm Brown, Deputy Minister of International Development of Canada; Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF and Ms. Tove Wang, Secretary General of Save the Children Norway.