Islamabad - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the government of Italy yesterday signed an agreement of approximately $1.7 million to support the girls’ right to education and safeguarding of cultural heritage in Pakistan.

The funds will enable UNESCO to implement a two-year project titled ‘Support for girls’ right to education and safeguarding cultural heritage through education in Pakistan,’ said a statement released here by the Italian Embassy.

In the presence of the Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, Mohammad Baligh-ur-Rehman and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Natural Heritage, Syed Junaid Akhlaq, the agreement was signed by Stefano Pontecorvo, the Italian Ambassador to Pakistan, Santa Molè, Head of Italian Cooperation and Vibeke Jensen, UNESCO Representative.

The project has two components: the first one on education, which aims to support the efforts of governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in increasing access, retention and improving the quality of girls’ education through capacity building and targeted interventions at both institutional and community levels. District Bahawalpur in the Punjab and District Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are the focused districts.

“The Italian funds allow us to expand our ongoing girls’ right to education interventions to more districts, and we are deeply grateful for that,” said Vibeke Jensen, UNESCO representative.

The second component is aimed at supporting the efforts of the government of Pakistan in the protection of cultural heritage through enhancing the role of young people and communities in safeguarding cultural heritage through capacity building in protection.

UNESCO will undertake awareness raising activities among the general public and specifically focus on school going youth and teachers.  All four provinces will benefit from the interventions of this component. “Sustainable Development Goals 4 on education points out the importance of teaching children respect for cultural diversity, respect for the environment and promote a culture of peace,” stressed Santa Molè said.

She added, “We are delighted to provide this assistance through UNESCO to the government of Pakistan allowing future generations to fully appreciate the incredibly rich and diverse culture that Pakistan possesses.”