Permanent Secretary DFID
visits girls’ school in Lahore as a
commitment of UK Aid’s support for education in Pakistan

22nd March 2018

Written by: Abeera Ahmed - Humqadam/Islamabad
Photos credits: Abeera Ahmed - Humqadam/Islamabad

Chief Guest, Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary DFID with Joanna Reid, Head of DFID Pakistan, in a group photo with some of the students of grade 5 and grade 9 at GGHS Township 2-D-1, District Lahore, Punjab province.

On Friday, March 9, 2017, Permanent Secretary at the Department of International Development (DFID), Matthew Rycroft, visited Government Girls’ High School (GGHS) Township 2-D/1, District Lahore, Punjab. The UK-Aid funded Humqadam School Construction and Rehabilitation Programme, under the Punjab Education Support Programme II (PESP II), provided 13 new classrooms and 11 new toilet blocks to address issues of overcrowding and multi-grade teaching at the school located in the densely populated Lahore District, Punjab province.

Mr. Rycroft was accompanied by Ms. Joanna Reid, Head of DFID Pakistan, Education Programme Team Leader, Chris Carter, and DFID Education Advisor, Saima Anwer. The guests were welcomed with enthusiasm and energy by students and teachers at the school. Ms. Saima Anwer briefed the guest on the PESP II portfolio, including Humqadam SCRP.

Mr. Rycroft then toured the newly constructed block where he interacted with students of multiple grades. The young students across the board were curious and inquisitive as they posed questions to the Chief Guest. Engaging with the students, the Chief Guest also quizzed the students with a volley of questions based on the subjects they were studying in class, which they answered with vigour.

(L): Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary DFID, being greeted with a bouquet of flowers by one of the students.
(R): The Chief Guest interacting with students of grade one during the classroom visits in the new academic block

The Chief Guest also took out time to meet with some of the parents, CCSI (Community Committee of School Infrastructure) members, and senior teachers to learn about the improvement in the quality of education at the school holistically- infrastructure, curriculum, teacher training, and retention. The occasion underscored the importance of girls’ education, while signaling to the young students the value of education.

“DFID is working in collaboration with the provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab on a host of development indicators, including education. We hope to meet the objectives, and we are on track so far,” said Mr. Rycroft on DFID’s ongoing engagement for improved educational indicators, particularly for girls’ education. The guest also hoped for continued cooperation between Pakistan and the UK, one which would continue for decades to come.

GGHS Township 2D-1 is one of 86 Girls’ High Schools in the Punjab province which have been identified to undergo infrastructure improvement under PESP II - a collaborative effort between UK Aid and the provincial government to improve education outcomes. As an all-girls high school, GGHS Township 2-D-1 holds a salient position in the catchment area it is located. Pre-existing 16 classrooms and only 10 student toilets were nearly not enough to accommodate the students as the student to classroom ratio was at an all-time high of 65:1-far from the ideal classroom size. Prior to Humqadam-SCRP intervention, the school ran double shifts to accommodate the student population in the limited classrooms available, which had an impact on the quality of education, student retention and academic results. With the provision of new classrooms and toilets, the schools now has 29 classrooms all together- student to classroom ratio stands at the ideal 40:1- and 21 toilets for their 1,172 female students in single shift.

Humqadam-SCRP is engaged in school construction and rehabilitation programme to bring vulnerable children to school and promote girls’ education through ensuring safe, secure and improved classrooms and toilets. These school facilities, particularly toilet facilities, go a long way in ensuring attendance, retention and a conducive learning environment for female students. So far 18 girls’ high schools have been completed and 68 are under construction at present in Punjab province. More than 2000 new classrooms are being built to transform the educational experience for thousands of young girls and boys into a joyful learning opportunity across 16 Districts of Punjab.

The new academic block of Government Girls High School Township 2-D-1, Lahore.

Humqadam-SCRP is the largest UK Aid infrastructure programme in the world. Humqadam-SCRP aims to improve infrastructure in government schools in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In Punjab Province Humqadam-SCRP has constructed 1,263 new classrooms and 753 toilet cubicles in 335 schools as of March 2018. The programme is a part of the £420 million Punjab Education Support Programme II (PESP II) and the £283 million Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Sector Programme (KESP), large and ambitious programmes which represent a collaborative effort between DFID, and the provincial governments to result in more children in school and better learning outcomes.