BE2C2 Report — Responding to Pakistani schools in crisis in the UAE, a top official for overseas Pakistanis affairs promised they will not be allowed to fail.
Habibur Rehman Gilani, managing director of the Islamabad-based Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF), who is on a visit to the emirates, said during a press briefing at the Pakistani consulate in Dubai that Pakistani schools’ continuation was “priority number one”.
There are an estimated 1.5 million Pakistanis in the UAE, making them the country’s second biggest expat community after Indians. Their children attend Pakistani schools following Pakistani educational curriculum, however, they have UAE government’s oversight with respect to standards and facilities being maintained by them, etc.
The handful of Pakistani schools in the emirates are struggling with standards and resources, with at least one community-run Pakistani school in Dubai told by authorities that it would be shut down if it fails to improve.
Gilani agreed that, generally, the situation of Pakistani schools in the UAE was “an emergency”. He said the OPF is formulating a strategy for their survival and improvement that would be presented in three months.
“But before that, there are things for which we will not wait three months. And that emergency is that there is a notice that they could be delisted or closed. We’ll not let that happen. To meet the immediate needs of the schools is our priority number one,” Gilani added.
He said the second priority was to improve educational quality while the third was to have a “hybrid” management system that would include stakeholders from the Pakistani missions, community and private sector.
Gilani went on to say that an advisory council for OPF would be set up, with 40 per cent of the council comprised by Pakistanis in the Middle East. He said the move would help OPF empathize more closely with Pakistani expats and facilitate addressing their concerns.
Gulf News adds: In a wide-ranging discussion with the press, the managing director said OPF is working on a host of services for Pakistani expats here and elsewhere.
Gilani said the financial compensation for the family of deceased Pakistani expats is being increased from 250,000 Pakistani rupees to 400,000 rupees. Also, the schooling discount in Pakistan for children of Pakistani expats was being raised from 25 to 50 per cent.
Gilani also gave assurances that the housing benefit schemes for overseas Pakistanis would be cleansed of any corruption, adding that an investigation was given the go-ahead by the Pakistani prime minister.
Also, a new OPF website is expected in around a month to make it easier for Pakistani expats to avail of OPF services.