ISLAMABAD -  The seriousness of the federal government about education can be gauged from the fact that it took three months time to just write to a local bank to confirm a bank account, so that European Union could transfer first tranche of 18.5m Euros to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government under Education Sector Plan Support Programme (KP-ESPSP).

The finance ministry did not move on the request of European Union until February 14 after the donor asked the ministry to do so on November 24 last year, sources told The Nation on Wednesday.

On Nov 24, 2016, the European Union via letter ARES (2016) 6647698 had requested the federal government to confirm an account for the release of first tranche of 18.5m Euros for the KP-ESPSP. Since the federal government is guarantor in the agreement, the EU simply asked for the confirmation of the account number in the National Bank of Pakistan Frankfurt Branch.

When asked why the KP government didn’t pursue the case, an official of the KP government said on the condition of anonymity that the provincial government has no authority to talk on the behalf of the federal government or confirm the account.

It was a matter of one week, however it took the federal government around three months to forward it to the bank, the official said, adding that the federal authorities last Tuesday asked the National Bank to confirm the account.

Under the project technical assistance is being provided to the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to support its Education Sector Plan. The KP-ESPSP is a five-year project designed to help the provincial government realise the objectives of its Education Sector Plan. The project aims at increasing the number of girls and boys enrolling in and successfully completing school, receiving a quality primary and secondary education.

The KP development indicators lag behind the rest of the country as around half of the total population is illiterate. Around half of the total 17 million populations in KP are illiterate which includes 65 per cent women. There are currently more than three million children not enrolled in basic education, nearly two million are girls.

KP-ESPSP aims to support more children to stay in school for longer while learning more. KESP was initially designed as a 4 year programme (June 2012-October 2016) with an overall budget of GBP 203.5 million. The programme was extended to July 2020 with an additional budget of GBP 79.8 million which brings the total value of KESP to GBP 283.3.