Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Why overseas aid matters

Three years ago I went on a trip to Pakistan organised by the British Council which involved supporting a group of education advocates aged 18-25 who were campaigning to implement a new law which guaranteed free state education at both primary and secondary level. It seemed that getting the law passed was only the first step in the long road to making sure all children in Pakistan had access to education.

I blogged briefly about that trip at the time, but the whole pasty tax issue came up at the same time (to the extent that I was trying to organise a campaign from a hotel room eight time zones away). But since that time I have closely followed the work of the 'IlmPossible' campaign and the campaigners we worked with.

Today came the news that one of the campaigners, Noman Akhtar, has taken the step of moving from being an advocate for change to being the change he wants to see. He is now teaching slum children - one of the groups least able to access a basic right such as education.

Noman writes (please bear in mind that English is not his working language):

"May be right now I'm unable to provide them with proper school environment and props like uniforms, books, shoes, and stationary, may be I'm restricted to a hut classroom up till now yet I'm dedicated to give my full attention and affection to these child because they deserve it the most. I'm pretty sure that educating a child is merely equal to educating a whole family. With the grace of Allah, today i have my 1st Basic Education class at Slum area Huts for those children who are actually beggars, Labors, and extremely poor with the believe that my efforts will surely bring a positive change in them !! Need your extra support and wishes for this noble cause"

I don't pretend that the trip we made three years ago had anything other than a fleeting impact on people who were already as committed as Noman, but the support that the UK government gives through DFID projects such as ours to work like Noman's is absolutely vital. Education helps to stamp out terrorism and money spent in Pakistan on projects like this makes our country safer.

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