UK Foreign Secretary’s visit to Kinnaird high school reinforces message for girls’ education
On 25 November, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited one of the 174 schools that IMC has rehabilitated so far in Pakistan as part of the DFID-funded School Construction and Rehabilitation Programme.
Friday 02 December 2016
Government Kinnaird high school for girls, in Lahore, Pakistan, brought the perfect setting for a short but impactful visit for UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as he basked in his role as a passionate advocate for girls’ education.
Kinnaird girls’ high school is one of the 94 dangerous schools across Punjab where the DFID-funded School Construction and Rehabilitation Programme (also known as Humqadam) has replaced unsafe and unhygienic classrooms with safe and nurturing learning places.
Accompanied by DFID Pakistan’s Head Joanna Reid, Boris Johnson received a heartfelt welcome from the students and teachers of the school, which went beyond the traditional roadside billboards.
Up till a month ago, more than a thousand girls at the school were forced to attend classes in cramped and precarious classrooms.
Kinnaird high school turned a new page in its 152-year-long history when the visiting Foreign Secretary unveiled the commemorative plaque to mark the completion of the Fatima Jinnah academic block.
This new block has 23 new classrooms and 11 toilets, which brings the student to classroom ratio down from 90 students per classroom to 60 students per classroom.
Although this still falls short of the recommended ratio of 40 students per classroom, the intervention has inspired the Punjab government to construct its own academic block of 6 new classrooms, which may bring that ratio further down to 52 students per classroom.
The school has everything it needs to be successful; amazing teachers, a beautiful new building, all this [support] coming from the UK and most importantly, its bright students keen to learn.
– UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
The visiting Foreign Secretary took a special interest in the school’s visual aids project room, where students-prepared handicrafts and models were on display, creatively depicting important cultural, scientific and environmental issues. The students opened up their hearts and excitedly explained their projects to the visitors.
Immediately after that, they all went into the newly constructed classrooms to get a real feel of the much-improved educational experience of the girls at the school.
Sitting in these new classrooms, we no longer feel depressed because these [classrooms] are bright and airy, and they make learning fun.
– Anum, Class 9
Inclusion of a school visit in his maiden visit to Pakistan packed with meetings with the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and high-ranking officials illustrates UK government’s deep commitment to improvement of educational infrastructure in Pakistan.
The School Construction and Rehabilitation Programme is part of DFID’s large scale Education Programme in Pakistan, the single largest intervention in education ever made by the Department in the developing world.
Cover photo: UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson with DFID Pakistan chief Joanna Reid, IMC’s SCRP Programme Deputy Team Leader Isfundiar Kasuri, and Kinnaird girls high school students.
In part one of this two-part series, Sustainability and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) expert Jonathan Essex and Associate Director of Governance and Peace Sensitivity Zahed Yousuf explore social cohesion in DRR programming.