A high-level UNICEF delegation met Sindh Minister for Education and Culture Syed Sardar Shah on Saturday at a local hotel in Karachi to assess international community support on the damages of recent natural calamities and the rehabilitation of education infrastructure in the province.

Robert Gordon Jenkins, Director of Education  UNICEF Headquarters led the delegation. Peter de Vries Education Advisor  UNICEF Rosa and  Ellen Van Kalmthout  Chief Education, UNICEF Pakistan included in the delegation. Secretary School Education Akbar Leghari, officers of education, and RSU were also present.

The purpose of the meeting was to seek international community support on the damages of recent natural calamities and the rehabilitation of education infrastructure in the province. The preliminary details of the survey conducted by the Education Department  Sindh regarding damages were presented in the meeting.

UNICEF Pakistan provided technical support to Sindh education department in the survey for the assessment of damages to education infrastructure. The UNICEF delegation said that for the first time children have faced such an environment, the flood victims are suffering from many social and psychological problems.

Talking to the delegation, Sindh Education Minister said that the school infrastructure has been severely affected due to recent rains and floods, the damage is so big that the government alone cannot do anything at this time. It is also the responsibility of the international community and organizations to support us in restoring the education process in flood-affected areas.

The education minister said that UNICEF helped to establish more than 2000 temporary learning centers in Sindh and at this time we need to start 20000 tent classrooms to maintain the teaching process.

Shah said that in view of the safety of children, we cannot allow children to sit in affected school buildings. Besides, we have to think about children’s malnutrition, child protection, and psychological problems. Robert Gordon Jenkins,  Director of Education  UNICEF Headquarters praised the initiative of the education department for conducting a survey for assessment of damages to education infrastructure and called timely decision.

Robert Gordon Jenkins said that the teaching process has already suffered a lot due to COVID-19. There are other such methods that can be used to educate children, such as the digital learning opportunities that have emerged during the COVID-19 crisis. RSU briefing the details of the initial funding of the survey told the meeting that 47 percent of schools out of 44219,  have been completely or partially affected by the floods.

According to the preliminary survey, 12664 schools have been partially affected and 7938 schools have been completely affected. The delegation assured the education department of Sindh of its full support and pledged to present the revival education case with global partners and the international community.

Related: UNICEF to restart educational activities in flood-affected areas of KP

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Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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