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.


Over 400 Afghan women aim to break male stranglehold on Parliament

Updated 18 October 2018
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Over 400 Afghan women aim to break male stranglehold on Parliament

  • Of 2,691 candidates vying for seats in Afghanistan's parliament, more than 400 are women
  • Their aims are to encourage a consensus among female members of Parliament and to end the reliance on factional leaders and strongmen with power and wealth

KABUL: For women in Afghanistan’s Parliament, what a difference a year makes.

Last December, the government proposed 12 candidates for ministerial positions; only one was female, and she failed to win enough votes.

Now hundreds of women aim to be agents of change by standing for Parliament in elections on Saturday.

More than 400 of the 2,691 candidates are women. Their aims are to encourage a consensus among female members of Parliament and to end the reliance on factional leaders and strongmen with power and wealth.

“The young and new candidates are a powerful tool to make Parliament exercise its rights as stipulated in the constitution,” said Zahra Nawabi, 28, a candidate from Kabul who has two master’s degrees.

“Our priority should be women, first and foremost addressing their health. Parliament should not become a source of shame for the nation.”

The practice of wealthy figures and men with power supporting their own choice of female nominees was a greater threat to Afghan democracy than the threatened attacks on the election process by Taliban insurgents, she said.

“The government needs to intervene to stop this, otherwise the next Parliament could be worse than the current one.”

Shinkay Karokhail, who was elected as an MP in 2005, was re-elected in 2010 and is standing again, admitted that female MPs had failed to form a powerful bloc in Parliament. Some of them regarded themselves “as extra-ordinary,” she said, and it was too early to say whether any of the new batch of candidates would be an improvement.