QUETTA, May 21, 2015: In an effort to improve existing education facilities in different districts of Balochistan, the UN Refugee Agency through its partner organization, Balochistan
Rural Development and Research Society (BRDRS) and in close collaboration with the Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees (CAR), has initiated the agency’s first ever education project in district Ziarat. The project in Ziarat will improve education facilities through construction of a students’ hostel, multipurpose hall and provision of gym equipment for students, construction of warden room and capacity building of trainings for teachers of Alhijrah School.
The construction of a hostel will enable students, coming from far-flung districts of the province to acquire quality education. The project will improve the living conditions of students and provide them a healthy environment for their studies. Prior to the intervention, eight students were sharing a single room; once the project is completed, there will be three students in each room.
Talking to the school management, Head of UNHCR Office in Quetta, Fabio Varoli said, UNHCR is pleased to support any efforts which are aimed at improving the standard of basic services in Balochistan. He added that, “RAHA initiative is a token of appreciation for Pakistan’s generosity for hosting millions of refugees for over three decades.” Mr. Varoli was leading a UNHCR delegation visiting the project site.
He said that education is the basic right of every child and UNHCR, under the RAHA programme, has been trying to further improve the quality of education in different districts. Speaking at the inauguration, vice principal, Tariq Hussain, said that around 180 students were already enrolled and benefiting from the school’s free quality education, and he anticipates a 70 percent increase in students once the project has been completed.
Balochistan hosts around 327,000 registered Afghan refugees, the majority of whom live in urban settlements alongside their Pakistani hosts. The RAHA initiative in Pakistan, seeks to ensure that not only Afghan refugees but also their host communities can benefit through the improvement of key facilities in the sectors of health, education, water and sanitation.
Under the RAHA initiative, UNHCR and CAR in Balochistan has, so far, implemented 224 projects worth USD 20.3 million in nine districts. The RAHA programme is a major component of the regional Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) endorsed by Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan and UNHCR in May 2012, which provides a predictable roadmap for solutions and the better management of Afghan refugees not only back in their country of origin but also in the countries of refuge.
Since its start in 2009 to date, some 3,500 RAHA projects have been implemented across Pakistan in the sectors of health, education, infrastructure, livelihoods, water and sanitation for the benefit of around five million individuals, four million of whom are Pakistani citizens.