New Foreign Aid Scandal: Free Books for Schools in Pakistan, but Education Cuts in Britain
In a new foreign aid scandal which has shocked even hardened observers, British taxpayers will pay for textbooks for three million Pakistani pupils and a third of a million female pupils will receive cash handouts — while the education budget in Britain is targeted by the ConDem government for millions of pounds in “savings.”
The announcement of the £89.3 million free school textbook programme for schools in Pakistan’s north west Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province was made in an official statement released by Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell.
“More than three million children will benefit from free textbooks in the conflict-affected province and more than 300,000 girls will receive a monthly allowance to encourage them to attend school,” Mr Mitchell announced.
According to the statement, issued while the Tory cabinet minister was on a visit to Peshawar, Mr Mitchell said he was “determined to make the country a higher priority for DFID,” and that education would be one of his key areas of focus.
This is Mr Mitchell’s second trip overseas since becoming International Development Secretary, after visiting Afghanistan last month. In Islamabad, he met President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, as well as the ministers for finance, education and health, to reiterate the UK’s commitment to Pakistan.
The DFID statement added that the foreign aid commitment intended to “help 5 million more children attend primary school” by 2013.
Meanwhile back in Britain, the Department for Education has been told to make £670 million in savings.
At a time of record demand, with applications up 16.5 percent on last year, there will be 10,000 fewer university places for this autumn than Labour had promised.
* British taxpayers have also been called upon to provide £200 million support to Afghanistan in a “drive to create more jobs, improve policing and strengthen the effectiveness of Afghan government,” David Cameron has announced.Mr Mitchell will announce further details of this £200 million package at the Kabul Conference on 20 July