Saudi, UK groups fund solar power panels for Pakistan’s KP schools

(Photo courtesy: British High Commission - Islamabad)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Saudi, UK groups fund solar power panels for Pakistan’s KP schools

ISLAMABAD: The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) on Tuesday announced an agreement to provide solar panels for schools in Pakistan’s northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The agreement, which will provide energy for primary schools in KP’s southern districts, was signed in Islamabad with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Over the next two years, UNOPS will implement the project on behalf of KP’s government, with £6.5 million ($9 million) of funding jointly committed by the DFID and SFD.
The grant will cover nearly 2,000 government schools in seven districts in KP: Bannu, D.I. Khan, Karak, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Hangu.
Of these, more than 700 are girls’ schools with more than 81,000 students already enrolled, the British High Commission said.
The Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf Saeed Ahmad Al-Maliki, said at the signing ceremony that the project will be extended.
He is looking forward to working closely with Pakistan and investing in the country, he added.
In his address, SFD head Yousef Ibrahim Al-Bassam said the project will be a turning point in the implementation of large-scale renewable energy projects.
“It will empower the students, provide them with opportunities and lead the province to economic and social development,” he added.
Al-Bassam said he is delighted to launch the project in collaboration with the DFID. He thanked UNOPS and KP’s government for their continuous support and cooperation in its implementation.
In his speech, KP’s Education Minister Mohammed Atif Khan lauded the SFD’s involvement and contribution, and expressed hope that it will further cement the brotherly relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
“Education is one of the top priorities of the KP government, and we’re committed to providing quality education in every single district of the province,” Khan said. “Lack of facilities in schools directly affects children’s education.”
Lack of basic facilities in government schools in Pakistan is one of the main reasons for low enrolment and high dropout rates. The problem can be particularly acute in remote areas.
With the DFID and SFD funding the provision of solar panels in these schools, KP’s government can focus its funding on other facilities, the British High Commission said.
While addressing the signing ceremony, DFID head Joanna Reid expressed confidence that providing electricity in schools in KP’s southern districts will improve enrolment rates and education quality.


UK PM May seeks Brexit fix in talks with rivals

Updated 17 January 2019
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UK PM May seeks Brexit fix in talks with rivals

  • May reached out to rival parties night shortly after surviving a no-confidence vote
  • May’s olive branch offer came after a hectic 24 hours that saw her Brexit deal defeated

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May scrambled to put together a new Brexit strategy on Thursday with cross-party talks after MPs sparked political turmoil by rejecting her previous agreement with the EU.
May reached out to rival parties on Wednesday night shortly after surviving a no-confidence vote, hoping to hammer out a Brexit fix that she could present to parliament on Monday.
Just over two months remain before the world’s fifth-largest economy is due to leave the EU, its closest trading partner, after 46 years.
But the island nation is still embroiled in many of the same arguments that were raging when voters defied government warnings and voted to leave in a 2016 referendum.
May’s olive branch offer came after a hectic 24 hours that saw her Brexit deal defeated by a historic margin in one vote and her government then cling on to power in a second one, by a narrow margin of 325 to 306.
May conceded in a Wednesday night television address to the nation that Britons might find the political upheaval “unsettling.”
She called on the opposition Labour party and its smaller pro-EU allies “to put self-interest aside” and attempt to find a solution to end the deadlock.
“The government approaches these meetings in a constructive spirit and I urge others to do the same,” she said.

Immediate hurdles

But May ran into immediate hurdles as top MPs set out demands and conditions contradictory to the government’s current stance.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would only sit down with May if she ruled out the possibility of a “no-deal Brexit.”
That scenario would see trade barriers go up overnight as existing agreements between Britain and the EU expire on March 29.
May’s meetings late Wednesday with top MPs from the pro-EU Liberal Democratic Party and the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties also yielded fresh demands.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) is trying to rule out “no-deal” and secure a second referendum, which could only be held if Brexit is postponed.
“For any discussion between your government and the SNP to be meaningful, these options must be on the table,” SNP parliament leader Ian Blackford said in a letter to May released after their meeting.
But Liberal Democrat chief Vince Cable said May showed a strong desire to engage with her parliamentary foes.
“I think in the current state of crisis that is a positive,” Cable told BBC Radio.

Brexit principles

May herself hinted on Wednesday that Brexit might be postponed if London rallies around a single set of proposals that it could present to the other 27 EU leaders.
She told parliament that Brussels would allow this “if it was clear that there was a plan toward moving toward an agreed deal.”
The British pound has rallied over the course of the week on expectations of a delay to Brexit.
Such a postponement would stop the UK immediately crashing out of the world’s largest single market.
But May has so far stuck to two Brexit principles that — if broken — could see more members of her own Conservative party revolt: limiting EU migration and pursuing an independent trade policy.
Both of those red lines are at odds with opposition hopes for membership of an EU customs union or its single market.
“We can’t stay in the current EU customs union,” Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis told BBC Radio.