Pakistan: Schools

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 17th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that £50 million of UK funding was provided for the construction of classrooms in areas of Pakistan after being warned that it was an earthquake zone, and that the classrooms were subsequently abandoned; what education provision is now available to the children who were to be taught in those schools; and who took the decisions to provide that funding.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Independent assessments commissioned by FCDO found that some school buildings built through the School Construction and Rehabilitation Programme, implemented by IMC Worldwide, were not compliant with the Pakistan Building Code and posed a risk where there is possibility of earthquakes. FCDO and IMC brought in Pakistani and international experts to investigate the problems, including actual testing of material used in construction, to find solutions where considered necessary. When safety concerns were independently verified, we worked with Government authorities to ensure all affected buildings were barred from use. Plans were made on a school by school basis between IMC, Provincial Governments and school principals for alternative accommodation of students. Prior to schools closing due to the COVID pandemic, an estimated 80% of affected students were being housed in existing school buildings. Temporary facilities were provided in 219 schools where students could not be accommodated in existing buildings. Schools are due to open again on 15 September 2020. Now that safety checks are complete, we are ready for most schools to be handed back to the Pakistani authorities and returned to use. The rest will be retrofitted by IMC - that work has now started.

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