FATA - The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched its first cash-based assistance for secondary school girls in Pakistan and is using biometric attendance data for the first time as part of its support to the FATA Secretariat education programme.
About 15,000 female students in 179 middle and high schools in 7 FATA Agencies and the Frontier Regions will take part in the innovative programme. Girls who attend at least 80 percent of classes each month will receive a cash grant of PKR 1000 (just under US$10).
Before each monthly cash disbursement, students and their mothers will receive information to raise their awareness of nutrition and general health and hygiene within the family.
The government chose to use biometrics to ensure that the girls attending classes are the girls receiving the cash assistance at the end of the month. It will also free up teachers from manually keeping attendance records. The machines for capturing the girls’ fingerprints are solar powered with an energy storage battery that is securely stored in the classroom.
“We are proud to support the FATA Secretariat whose education agenda recognizes the importance of girls’ education in society. This programme will encourage girls to continue their study to secondary level and help keep them in school. This is key to the development of the region,” said WFP Country Director Finbarr Curran. “WFP is delighted to team up with Australia and Canada on this government-led initiative.”
“Australia is pleased to support WFP’s education programme in the FATA, enabling underprivileged families to send their children, particularly girls, to school. Investing in education is essential for every country’s successful social and economic development. And there is global recognition of the vital importance of providing girls with equal access to education, both to realize their own potential, and for the broader dividends for the society,” Australian High Commissioner Margret Adamson said.
“The people of FATA are among those who suffered most in the fight against terrorism. By supporting the reintegration of the FATA people, the international community is demonstrating its solidarity with their plight,” noted the Canadian High Commissioner Perry Calderwood.
FATA suffers from exceptionally low levels of female literacy and most girls of high school age are not in class. WFP has established a feedback mechanism at each school to involve the local community in monitoring the schools receiving assistance, which is a standard practice for WFP programmes.
WFP has been providing education support in FATA since 2008 and has assisted nearly 300,000 students in 1,700 government primary (boys & girls) and secondary schools. In partnership with UNICEF and UNESCO, WFP will further explore possibilities of joint programmes to promote quality education in FATA, building on previous joint initiatives.
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