Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Rana Tanveer Hussain welcomed a senior delegation of World Bank led by the Vice President World Bank Human Development Group Ms. Mamta Murthi here on Wednesday. Chief Economist at World Bank Mr. Norbert Shady and Senior Education Specialist Ms. Izza Farrakh were also a part of the delegation. Secretary Education Mr. Waseem Ajmal Chaudhry attended the meeting along with other senior ministry officials. Federal Minister Rana Tanveer welcomed the delegation and acknowledged the work being done by the World Bank in Pakistan. He said that this work is noble and he appreciated the support and cooperation of World Bank. He said that critical projects are underway in collaboration with World Bank that needs to be expedited on emergency basis. He said that the Government of Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has put high importance on education. Rana Tanveer highlighted the focus of the government to address the high number of Out Of School Children in the country, which stands at 22.8 million. He said that increasing girls’ education is a point of focus while simultaneously enhancing financing for girls scholarships. Rana Tanveer said that by strengthening National Education Data and Information System we can make better and more informed policies. He reiterated that promoting skills, technical and vocational education for youth bulge is a top priority for the current government. Rana Tanveer said that by increasing Internet connectivity to maximum parts of the country, especially remote areas, could enable distance-learning opportunities for all. He said that by enhancing digital learning practices in the education sector and by developing a distance education ecosystem, we could provide blended learning solutions through technology-enabled opportunities in the entire country. Federal Minister Rana Tanveer said that one of the areas of focus is to streamline Madrassas and religious education centers that offer regular educational opportunities to students nationally. He said that a special regulatory authority has been set up which has registered 14,000 Madrassas nationally out of 40,000. He said that a resilient education system in the wake of health and climate-caused emergencies and disruptions including floods, will be a key focus in all future policies of the government. Rana Tanveer said that the issue of Out of School Children is a top priority that needs urgent focus. He continued that the challenge of OOSC cannot be efficiently tackled unless we have accurate and relevant data. Rana Tanveer said that we need in-depth data on OOSC in order to design effective and efficient strategies. He said that Pakistan also needs state-of-the-art training institutes for teachers. He emphasized the role of teachers in imparting high-quality education to students. Minister briefed the delegation about the Recent estimates which suggest that over 34,000 public education institutions were damaged or destroyed (Source: UN Education Sector Working Group). At least 2.6 million students in the country have been affected by the floods. He further said that research by the World Bank suggests that as many as 1 million children may drop out and not return to school as a result of the flood damage to education and that the total costs of loss and damage to education is estimated to be $780 million. Vice President World Bank Human Development Group Ms. Mamta Murthi acknowledged the role of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training in the implementation of the ongoing World Bank funded projects. She thanked the minister for his relentless support and said that the priorities of the World Bank and the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training align. Rana Tanveer also assured the delegation of full cooperation and support. He said that it is imperative to work together to ensure progress. Minister said we should leverage the global knowledge base and experience of the World Bank and use it to our advantage. Minister said that youth is the future of Pakistan and a successful youth means a successful Pakistan hence all of their issues should be addressed on top priority.