It is seldom that an ambassador takes time out to visit students of a government school. The students of Government Higher Secondary School, Mayyar and Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Shah Dhand in District Mardan greeted a rare visitor on Thursday when the British High Commissioner, Thomas Drew spent almost a full day with them.
Arriving with a small delegation for an intimate visit to the schools, the British High Commissioner was accompanied by Judith Herbertson, Deputy Head of DFID Pakistan. They were received by Minister of Education (KP) Atif Khan, school staff and community elders. He had an intimate interactive session with key stakeholders of the school infrastructure improvement process, including school faculty, representatives of the education department, CCSI members and Humqadam-SCRP’s Deputy Team Lead.
He commended the KP government on its ongoing work on education reform, and expressed the UK government’s pleasure in working closely with them. He also emphasised the importance of education for Pakistan’s future.
The key objective of the visit seemed to be the High Commissioner’s interest in spending some time with the students of the schools and getting a glimpse of what goes on inside a classroom in rural KP. He had an engaging conversation with the girl students at GGHSS, Shah Dhand, who had a lot of questions about the High Commissioner and his country.
Mr. Drew recalled that he was last posted in Pakistan 10 years ago, and is delighted to be back as High Commissioner, a position where he can help contribute to Pakistan’s ongoing education reform. Speaking to the girls at GHSS Shah Dhand, while donning a teacher’s cap, he expressed his personal interest in education.
“I come from a long line of teachers… my mother and grandmother were teachers before me. My grandmother was the first woman to go on to university. So I have a special interest in girls education,” said Mr. Drew reminisced to the students.
Being back inside a classroom and speaking to the students brought the teacher out in the High Commissioner; he read a couple of pages to the students on Pakistani Handicraft.
Mr. Atif Khan, Minister of Education, said that it was heartening to see that the KP government’s prioritisation of education was being matched by the bilateral support of the UK government.
“This has been an inspiring visit, not just for the political leadership, but especially for the students and the teacher at the schools,” he said.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the scene of hectic construction and rehabilitation work assisted by DFID’s School Construction and Rehabilitation Programme – one of the largest DFID infrastructure programmes in the world. Humqadam-SCRP is bringing safe learning environments and missing facilities to thousands of students in the districts of Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Abbottabad, Haripur, Lower Dir, Chitral, Kohat, and Nowshera.