USAID to Expand Its Teacher Training Project in Pakistan
The USAID Teacher Education Project in Pakistan has expanded to provide teaching services to every province in the country. This $75 million project has been working since 2011 to modernize Pakistan’s education system. With the help of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission (HEC), over 2,600 students have enrolled in 15 universities and 57 colleges across the country. USAID hopes to see this number increase as more teachers emerge from the Teacher Education Program.

In order to reach out to more potential teachers, USAID realized the need to enlarge its program. Not only will the Teacher Education Project offer more locations, it is also giving 1,900 scholarships to students based on merit and financial need.

This higher education program will be implementing suggestions from a study conducted in 2006 that found flaws in Pakistan’s current teacher training system. The study discovered a trend of the government setting unrealistic goals for its education system and then, when it fails to meet those goals, creating new, also idealistic targets that are never reached. By making its goals more realistic, USAID is confident in its ability to improve Pakistan’s education system by producing high quality teachers.

As Pakistan trains more well qualified teachers, the country will begin to experience higher quality of education for its younger students as well. Javaid Laghari, chair of the HEC, is optimistic about Pakistan’s future, “We hope for a good change, when today’s students become tomorrow’s teachers.”

– Mary Penn

Source: UWN
Photo: BarakatNews

USAID Attacks Poverty At Its Root: The Educational System
In line with goals to lower its global footprint, USAID has brought together faculty leaders from leading universities in Pakistan to develop syllabi to increase the quality of education for fourth and final year education majors completing their bachelor’s degrees.

Among the topics discussed were panels on focusing on trends and models of curriculum development. The faculty and leaders worked in accordance with one another to share their notes and syllabi. This workshop was one of many being held to complete course designs. USAID has hosted this event in an effort to strengthen international and national curriculum development in Pakistan and neighboring countries.

Many border communities in Afghanistan have benefited from the increased push to strengthen educational support systems by USAID. Educating communities in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan helps develop the infrastructure of the entire community. This leads to a strengthened economy and higher standards of living. In turn, a more educated community with access to food and clean water is a community that is less likely to susceptible to terrorist persuasion.

Another benefit of educating people in impoverished communities such as those that lie on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan is that with a well education populace is more able to contribute to the global economy. By assisting educators in strengthening educational systems and educational support systems, USAID is attacking poverty at its root.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: International News
Photo: rawa.org

Angelina_Jolie_Malala
At the Women in the World Summit earlier this week, Angelina Jolie paid tribute to Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in October because of her activism on educating girls and women. Jolie also pledged $200,000 to an educational fund that will provide money to build a girls school in Pakistan.

The Malala Fund, which will be directed by the girl, is set to build a school large enough for 40 girls to attend. In a video played at the conference, Malala told the audience that she hopes the 40 girls educated at her namesake school will turn into 40 million girls, and said it was the “happiest moment of her life.”

In her tribute to Malala, Jolie told the audience of her story and how the Taliban set out to silence Malala and her message, but only “made her stronger.” Other stars to appear at the Women in the World conference include Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Barbara Walters, and Eva Longoria. Christiane Amanpour was also in attendance and moderated a panel on “The Next Generation of Malalas,” where she spoke to two young Pakistani girls also advocating for girls’ education.

Christina Kindlon

Source: CBC News

A Gift from Madrid to Reduce PovertyLast month, 400 International MBA students from the IE Business School in Madrid went to Pakistan to work on the “LettuceBee Kids” project, a “social enterprise aiming to provide a self-sufficient mechanism of survival to street children.” The IE Business program challenges its International MBA class by exposing students to extreme poverty-stricken areas and countries where they get to participate first-hand in poverty projects. Within the program, the Change in Action (CIA) module was formed in 2008 as a part of the International MBA agenda to fight global problems.

It was challenging to take a diverse group of 400 of the top students in the program from Madrid to reduce poverty in Pakistan, having them brainstorm sustainable solutions for street children in Islamabad in just five days while they did not know much about the country in the first place. Professor Todd Lombardo brought to the table the design thinking concept – which is composed of six stages: understand, observe, synthesize, ideate, prototype, and test – to help the students come up with innovative solutions.

The author of the article, Saad Khan, urges “elite institutions” to get their students to be involved in similar projects and programs. Exposure to extreme poverty not only creates awareness among those who are not directly affected by it, but it allows for an acknowledgment of the costs of capitalism, the lack of business models which are value-based, and extreme disparities in income between the haves and have-nots. Additionally, Khan believes that foreign policies should be tweaked to better address problems of poorer nations, which in turn would help prevent and tackle terrorism.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: The Tribune

USAID Funding Power Station in Pakistan
The first phase of construction on the Tarbela Hydel Power Station, located in Lahore, Pakistan, has been completed. The project, which is being financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), allowed the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to add 128 megawatts of electricity to the station.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, visited the power station and was briefed by WAPDA Chairman Syed Raghib Shah. Shah said that the WAPDA appreciates the United States’ aid in updating Pakistan’s energy sector, and also stated that these upgrades will allow more consistent electricity to be provided to the people of Pakistan for a very affordable price.

Along with upgrading current power stations throughout Pakistan, WAPDA is also using funds from USAID to construct brand new power stations.

Ambassador Olson stated, “The United States understands that Pakistan is facing an energy crisis and we are committed to doing our part,” and also said that the recent upgrade at the Tarbela station will contribute enough power to provide electricity to 2 million people, and to ensure a consistent source of electricity to avoid blackouts and outages.

As part of a larger project, USAID is providing WAPDA with $16.5 million to repair three additional power stations and to train employees that will finish the Tarbela Hydel Power Station in Pakistan. Besides these three power plants, USAID is also funding additional hydropower projects throughout Pakistan – these efforts include the construction of two dams that will provide an extra 35 MW of power and irrigate 200,000 acres of land.

Christina Kindlon

Source: The News
Photo: Pakistan Today

US AID Fighting Terrorism With WoolQuinoa seems to be on everyone’s mind lately, but for the district of Mastung – a district located on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan– sheep and shepherding account for more than 40% of the economy. Unfortunately, many farmers in Mastung use outdated techniques which limit their production even though demand for wool is high.

To help with this dilemma, USAID has funded an agricultural project in which Australian shepherds, who are among the world’s finest, instruct a best-practices workshop which teaches Mastung farmers current techniques and educate the farmers on how to use current technologies. These new techniques have been combined with direct marketing practices and, with the two disciplines combined, the result is an 80% growth of income for farmers in the communities where these practices have been implemented.

While this type of growth does help border communities in Pakistan, the strengthening of these communities has an unforeseen effect on U.S. national security and global security as a whole. It is no secret that extremist groups target poor communities by offering financial assistance and other forms of aid. In a region that has been plagued with extremist groups such as the Taliban, contributing to the economic growth of communities and helping them remain stable prevents the spread of terrorism and extremist ideology. For the Mastung, fighting terrorism with wool production is a win-win situation.

Not only do these contributions help create a better life for those in the border communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also help these communities as a means to furthering global security as a whole.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: TheNews.com
Photo: Pakistan Today

US AID Working to Further Education in PakistanAs part of a larger effort to further education in Pakistan, USAID has awarded scholarships to 150 students of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The students are enrolled for either the two-year Associate Degree in Education program or the four-year Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education program and are candidates the teachers who will go on to educate Pakistani youth. This is an important part of USAID’s collaboration with the Government of Pakistan in the larger Teacher Education Project. The project, which is slated to run for five years, includes an updated and standardized curriculum in 22 Pakistani universities and 75 teacher colleges.

The USAID Mission Director, Jock Conly, and the Prime Minister of AJK presented the awards, where Conly said that the scholarships are representative of the U.S. government’s committed effort to helping solidify the state of education and prosperity in Pakistan and to help create a “Roshan Pakistan.” He went on to confirm that the US hopes to help raise the bar of Pakistani education by supporting “better prepared teachers.”

USAID hopes that the program will create a much higher standard of education throughout the country. They aspire to hand out over 1,900 scholarships throughout the duration of the program. The U.S. gives more than $110 million to support education in Pakistan annually.

Christina Kindlon

Source: Pakistan Today

 

The Armstrong Trial Building New Schools?The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged $25 million in an effort to repair and rebuild schools in Pakistan, mostly in provinces that have been affected by military involvement and severe flooding. USAID is working with the local Provincial Disaster Management Authority to rebuild school buildings that serve to educate children and often act as community gathering places.

USAID had previously given about $85 million to rebuild schools and irrigation systems in some provinces. The money also served to rebuild 122 schools. This means that for every $1 million, the equivalent of 1.4 schools is rebuilt. Even with the positive turnout of new schools being built quickly, a bigger donation could make an even greater difference. But given the economy these days, where could that money come from?

The international giving of the United States is a point of pride for many and it really does cause the rest of the world to see the country in a more positive light. What better way to fund a great tradition than to reclaim funds from the recent scandal?

The U.S. government is filing a suit against Lance Armstrong and the U.S. cycling team for $30 million. The federal government and the U.S. Postal Service were the primary sponsors of the now-disgraced superstar and now, they want their money back. The Armstrong trial has been picking up a lot of buzzes, from his confession on Oprah to an episode of South Park dedicated to his popular Livestrong bracelets. An additional $30 million would more than double USAID’s ability to rebuild schools; maybe this is an opportunity for the greatest team in U.S. cycling history to try to recoup from their fall from grace.

Kevin Sullivan

Sources: TheHill.com, The Express Tribune
Photo: Hollywood.com

malala-fund-created-to-support-girls-education
In October 2012, the Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old girl, for speaking up about women’s rights and education. She survived the brutal attempt on her life and in response, became determined to help every child in the world receive an education. To help make this dream a reality, she started the Malala Fund.

The Malala Fund was created with the help of an already established non-profit, Vital Voices, which encourages women’s empowerment and leadership. The Malala Fund’s aim is to support education for children across the globe.

Since the attempt on her life, much of the world has stood up in support of Malala. She even had a song titled Ricochet (Malala’s Song) written about her by a girl named Samantha Anne Martin; all of the profit created from the song on iTunes will go towards the Malala Fund. On February 4th, Malala released a video stating that she was still alive and doing well after various surgeries, and that now she will dedicate her life to serving girls across the world who need her and need help attaining an education.

Malala’s father has told ABC that he believes his daughter should serve as an inspiration to the children of the world. Perhaps he is right, because despite the fact she almost died for supporting the right woman to receive an education, she has become even more committed to the cause following her recovery.

Two important organizations, The United Nations Foundation and Girl Up, have given their support to the Malala Fund and her cause. Some militants still wish to harm Malala but nonetheless, Malala has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and remains optimistic.

To donate to the Malala Fund, see the Democracy in Action webpage.

– Corina Balsamo

Sources: ABC News, Vital Voices, New York Times
Photo: The Daily Beast