A pre-budget seminar on girls’ education has laid stress on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to keep the education sector among its top priorities in preparation of plans for the upcoming fiscal year 2023-24. The seminar was organized by Blue Veins, a non-governmental organization, in collaboration with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women (KPCSW) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Commission. The objective of the seminar was to engage all governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to expand their agendas for girls’ education and gather inputs and demands regarding education financing priorities. “The recent floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan have had a significant impact on public sectors including education while the socio-economic and political crises have exacerbated the problems and caused widespread challenges to many areas with an additional burden on education,” observed Amina Durrani, Director Programme KPCSW. In her welcome address Amina Durrani said the state of girls’ education in KP is dismal as out of 4.7 million out-of-school children in the province around 66 per cent are girls. Around 23 per cent of girls cannot reach the level of 10 grade (Metric) due to different reasons including lack of schools in their respective areas, lack of basic facilities in schools and early marriages etc, Amina added. We cannot achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) unless we cover important sectors of education, especially girls’ education, Amina opined. Programme Manager Blue Veins, Qamar Naseem said early marriages are a big hurdle for girls to become properly educated. He suggested for adoption of a Public-Private model adopted in Sindh province for providing opportunities to maximum number of girls in getting education. Speaking on the occasion, Sher Azam Khan, Chief Planning Officer Elementary and Secondary Education KP apprised participants that the provincial government is giving due consideration to girls’ education and for the last four years all new schools have been established with a ratio of 30:70, 30 per cent boys and 70 per cent girls schools. In KP, he continued, there are around 34780 schools out of which 20447 are for girls and 14333 for boys. In last year’s fiscal budget, the developmental budget for the education sector was around 227.1 billion, 17 per cent of the total budget of Rs. 1332 billion, Sher Azan told the participants. Shahab Uallah, Senior Planning Officer E&SE KP observed that gender parity is a challenging task in education sector, but despite all difficulties, the department is fully focusing on the promotion of female education. In the outgoing fiscal year, the department has so far received 20.4 billion developmental allocations which has been utilized with the ratio of 70 per cent (Rs. 14.2 billion) for girls’ education and 30 per cent 6.12 for boys. In the Annual Development Programme (ADP) 110 schemes are ongoing for provision of 5424 facilities with a distribution of 3797 for girl’s education institutes and 1627 for boys, he added. The Education Department has set up Girls’ Community Schools in rural areas of all the districts with focus on areas which lack facilities of government girls’ schools. Similarly, 209 Literacy For All centers has been established which are functional since 2018. The education department has also chalked out a scheme of Rs 3.7 billion for providing stipends to girls in merged areas from six to twelve years of age. Noor Alam Khan, Senior Planning Officer also informed the participants of the pre-budget seminar that the education department has planned a mega scheme of bringing around three million out-of-school children back to school. The programme estimated cost is calculated at around Rs. 94 billion and will be presented in an inter-provincial meeting of Education Departments to be held in Islamabad in the near future. Noor Alam informed that solarization of 9200 schools in settled areas has been completed while installation process is in the final states in 1100 schools in merged districts. Solarization will also improve presence of teaching staff in schools because of full-time operation of bio-metric machines and will help in improving education standards, he hoped. Noor Khan said challenges exist in the province to ensure proper education, especially of girls, and these difficulties are increased manifold due to the prevailing socio-economic crisis, but the department is fully committed and focusing on the achievement of its goal of education for all. Later the participants of the seminar formally handed over their recommendations to officials of the education department.