The second instalment in the series of seminars organised by Forum for International Relations Development (FIRD) and London College of Business Management and IT (now SOEL) saw Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education KPK, Minister Muhammad Atif Khan and Minister for Agriculture and IT, Shahram Tarakai provide an insight in to the developmental stride being taken by the KPK government.
The seminar hosted by Umar Mahmood, began with an introduction of the contribution of British Pakistanis in the development of the local communities through educational, sports, mentoring, employment etc programmes executed by British Pakistani organisations, such as Stockwell Green Community Services (SGCS) and LCBMIT in partnership with governmental institutions including Ministry of Justice, Met Police, Home Office and others.
Toaha Qureshi MBE (Chairman FIRD, CEO LCBMIT) shed light on the educational projects being spear headed by LCBMIT to support disenfranchised poverty stricken children through the Change Maker Scholarship Programme. Mr Qureshi went on to say that the programme aims to provide students of Pakistan education at an international level with exposure to British systems. In a previous meeting at Governor House with the Governor KPK Eng Shaukatullah the official offer was made and accepted. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between LCBMIT and the KPK Government through Minister Khan. Mr Qureshi stated that Pakistan must start connecting internationally through strong links in the education sector so that it can build its knowledge reserve to share in Pakistan. In 2013, the governments of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan have all had this programme and advertisements to attract students has already begun. Last week, the Minister for Education (Punjab) Rana Mashood Khan was also hosted to discuss the same programme being executed by LCBMIT/FIRD in partnership with the Punjab government. This particular scholarship programme will cover undergraduate and postgraduate courses for students of KPK.
Muhammad Atif Khan, Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education, started by saying that the education sector is being totally revamped - there are policies being actioned for teachers, lecturers, students and more. There are outcomes of this, where in just 3 months there approximately 300,000 additional children in schools. Teacher training programmes, where teachers are given Masters level training, have begun and almost 33,000 will go through this. Ensuring that the students get the best they can, recruitment is also being tightened up and hiring is being done on a meritorious basis, not on recommendation At the same time female education has been put at the forefront of the educational reforms by the KPK government - this can be seen through the stipend being provided to female students (1200PKR) to study at schools. Responding to comments on eradicating corruption he said that the government is taking this seriously and has already removed three ministers on these grounds - the top level of government is being cleaned and this will reflect going down. Minister Khan, grateful for the programme, said that education is a tool that can be used to tackle all problems such as radicalisation, crime etc.
Minister for Agriculture and IT, Shahram Tarakai, appreciated the opportunity for integration by overseas Pakistanis and said the country needed continued support of organisations such as FIRD/LCBMIT. The Minister talked about the developments in reducing corruption, increasing services to the people and changing the mindset of people for the better. He spoke about practical steps being taken, such as the Time Bound Services Act and reducing spending through cutting security detail expenditure for ministers. Whilst thanking Mr Qureshi for the scholarship programme he said that without education we cannot achieve these steps. Azhar Javaid, Akram Kaimkhani, Atif Chaudry and Faisal Khwaja also spoke at the event.
The seminar was attended by researcher, students, community leaders, media and the public.