The World Food Programme’s (WFP) first cash-based assistance initiative for secondary school girls in Pakistan will be supported by biometric attendance data.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Secretariat education program will serve the semi-autonomous tribal region in northwestern Pakistan, which will see participation from about 15,000 female students in 179 middle and high schools in 7 FATA agencies and the frontier regions.
All girls who attend at least 80 percent of classes each month will receive a cash grant of PKR 1000 (just under US$10).
The government is using biometrics to ensure that the girls attending classes are, in fact, the same girls receiving the payments at the end of the month, as well as to free up teachers from manually keeping attendance records.
The machines for capturing the girls’ fingerprints are solar powered with an energy storage battery that is securely stored in the classroom.
“We are proud to support the FATA Secretariat whose education agenda recognizes the importance of girls’ education in society,” said WFP country director Finbarr Curran. “This programme will encourage girls to continue their study to secondary level and help keep them in school. This is key to the development of the region. WFP is delighted to team up with Australia and Canada on this government-led initiative.”
FATA has exceptionally low levels of female literacy and most girls of high school age do not go to class.
WFP has set up a feedback initiative at each school to involve the local community in monitoring the schools receiving assistance, which is a regular practice for WFP programs.
“Australia is pleased to support WFP’s education programme in the FATA, enabling underprivileged families to send their children, particularly girls, to school,” Australian High Commissioner Margret Adamson said. “Investing in education is essential for every country’s successful social and economic development. And there is global recognition of the vital importance of providing girls with equal access to education, both to realize their own potential, and for the broader dividends for the society.”
WFP has partnered with UNICEF and UNESCO to further explore possibilities of joint programs in an effort to raise awareness of quality education in FATA.