$300m world bank loan for Pakistan education
$300m WB loan for poverty reduction, higher education
Washington, Sep 12: The World Bank has approved a $300 million concessional
loan for Pakistan for education and poverty reduction.
The bank's board,
which met in Washington on Thursday, approved $200 million for the Benazir
Income Support Programme and $100 million for higher education.
It is an
IDA concessional loan at zero point five per cent interest rate and is repayable
in 35 years.
Under the Benzair Income Support Programme, the government
aims to provide cash grants to a targeted population designated as poor.
Two months ago, the World Bank loaned $75 million to Pakistan from its
technical assistance fund to conduct survey to determine who qualifies to
receive cash grants. A World Bank team will conduct the survey and based on it
findings, it will develop a score card or guidelines for the distribution of
"Pakistani households are highly vulnerable to income shocks and
existing social assistance programmes cover only a very small fraction of the
poor," said Yusupha Crookes, the World Bank country director for Pakistan.
"Assisting the poor and the vulnerable is a key objective of the
government's poverty reduction strategy. This project will help build a robust
safety net system that provides chronic and transient poor people with both
basic income support and access to opportunities that will help lift them out of
poverty," Mr Crookes added.
Since 2000, the bank has provided $646
million for anti-poverty programmes in Pakistan, which does not include the
funds approved on Thursday.
The programme, which had reached more than
2.5 million people, included funds for micro-credit loans and skills and
enterprise development training.
The higher education support programme
credit will support the government's initiatives to increase participation,
enhance quality and relevance and strengthen the efficiency and financial
sustainability of higher education institutions. In June, the bank approved an
aid package of $900 million dollars for Pakistan, the bulk aimed at educational
The interest-free IDA loan was specifically directed at
improving education in Punjab and Sindh to scale up a community driven
development project that already active in some 35,000 villages throughout the
The IDA loan comes from the International Development
Association, which is a part of the World Bank that helps the world's poorest
Established in 1960, the IDA aims to reduce poverty by
providing interest-free credits and grants for programmes that boost economic
growth, reduce inequalities and improve people's living conditions. Dawn
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700 Belgian schools to ban headscarves
Brussels: About one fifth of all schools in Belgium's Dutch-speaking Flanders
region will ban pupils from wearing Muslim headscarves, the schools said on
Friday. "This decision promotes the feeling of equality and prevents group
formation or segregation on the basis of external symbols of life philosophy,"
said a statement from the schools, which number about 700. Most schools in
Flanders are Catholic.
Two schools in the northern city of Antwerp and nearby
Hoboken introduced such a ban at the start of the school year last week, arguing
that Muslim girls were being pressured to wear headscarves by their families and
peers. Angry pupils have protested outside the two schools, and one girl filed a
complaint in court to contest the ban.
The protests, with banners reading "No
headscarves, no pupils" and "Everybody free except us", have been front-page
news in Belgium. One of the schools was vandalised, had slogans sprayed on its
walls and its director received a death threat. France passed a law in 2004
banning pupils from wearing conspicuous signs of their religion at school after
a decade of bitter debate about Muslim girls wearing headscarves in class. Daily times
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