UK education aid to Pakistan: No turning back

    U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening meets women health workers during her visit to Pakistan in January 2013. Photo by: Usman Ghani / DfID

    Justine Greening took a trip to Pakistan this week to reaffirm the United Kingdom’s commitment to improving education there. This comes at a time when U.K. aid to the Asian country’s education sector has come under intense scrutiny back home.

    Education is the United Kingdom’s “No. 1 priority” in Pakistan, the international development secretary said Monday (Jan. 21) during a visit to two schools in the city of Rawalpindi. She added that the donor country will continue to partner with Pakistan to support 4 million schoolchildren by 2015.

    Greening is due to appear as witness at a Jan. 29 International Development Committee session on Pakistan. Last week, the committee held an inquiry into the Department for International Development’s education program in the country.

    DfID’s aid to Pakistan is expected to more than double by 2015, averaging 350 million pounds ($554.6 million) a year. This will make Pakistan the United Kingdom’s biggest aid recipient, according to DfID’s 2011-2015 operational plan. The expected increase has led parliament to question the effectiveness of U.K. aid programs in Pakistan, and whether the government is “taking the necessary reforms” in governance, tax collection and corruption.

    A recent controversy concerning a DfID-funded “better schools” media campaign in Pakistan has added fuel to the fire.

    On Tuesday, her last day in Pakistan, Greening also announced new U.K. support for a health and nutrition program in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The program’s focus is on maternal and child health.

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    About the author

    • Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.