KARACHI - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Sindh Department of Education and Literacy Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to expand USAID's nationwide $90 million ED-LINKS program in Sindh province. Also today, education officials launched two workshops for educators in Karachi and Islamabad as part of the ED-LINKS program. 'This program promises great rewards in Sindh," USAID Pakistan Mission Director Anne Arnes said at the signing ceremony.  "ED-LINKS projects will improve the teaching skills of more than 30,000 teachers in the target districts; provide effective models for school management; and improve the learning environment for more than 500,000 students." The ED-LINKS program will be implemented in 3,000 middle and secondary schools in Sukkur, Khairpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Dadu, Jamshoro, Tharparkar, Mirpur Khas, Sanghar, Nawabshah, and Shikarpur. Earlier in the day, ED-LINKS launched its activities in Sindh with a 10-week leadership and management program for 125 head teachers at Aga Khan University. In Islamabad, USAID Pakistan Acting Deputy Director Robert Wuertz launched a 10-day workshop on standards-based education. The workshop, conducted under the auspices the Federal Ministry of Education Curriculum Wing, brings together leading authors, textbook writers, subject specialists, and teacher trainers. They will work together to develop strategies for implementing curriculum standards in schools across the nation. Since 2002, the U.S. Government has provided more than $2 billion to Pakistan to improve economic growth, education, health, and governance, and to reconstruct areas affected by the October 2005 earthquake. Meanwhile, Senior Provincial Minister for Education and Literacy Pir Mazharul Haq has said that the education sector in Sindh province did not acquired desired progress due to the influential presence of Punjabi establishment in the province. Dadu district has sacrificed remarkably on account of restoration of democracy in the country that is why the district has been ignored by the authorities to give the district its basic rights, he said. He was talking to media men after the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signing ceremony between the Sindh Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh and USAID held here on Monday at a local hotel. He said that the present government was taking concrete steps to improve the quality of education in the province. The government is trying to reopen schools in the province as nearly 7,572 schools are non-functional. It is pertinent to mention here that there are 49028 Schools in the Province of Sindh, out to which 7572 are non-functional whereas 41456 Schools are functional. Out of these 41456 Schools, 29035 Schools are running without electricity whereas 5037 schools without furniture. Conversely, the government has already planned to provide all missing facilities to the Schools, including electricity and furniture. It is also worth mentioning that nearly 50 million Pakistanis, half of the adult population, cannot read, female literacy, approximately 42 per cent, is much lower than male literacy, approximately 65 per cent, this disparity is more pronounced in rural areas, where 31 per cent of women are literate. The main factors that keep children uneducated are limited access to education, teacher absenteeism, the low quality of education, poverty, corporal punishment and a high student-to-teacher ratio.