UNESCO Office in Islamabad



The UNESCO Office in Pakistan was established in Karachi in 1958 as the "UNESCO Regional Centre for Reading Materials in South Asia". In 1969, it was renamed as the "UNESCO Regional Centre for Book Development in Asia". Its mandate included book promotion and development of infrastructures for the book publishing industries in the region. By 1972, the Center's activities covered 21 UNESCO Member States in Asia. The same year, it was also designated as the field office for UNESCO's International Copyright Information Centre. In October 1989, the office was moved to Islamabad and functioned as the "Regional Office for Book Development in Asia and the Pacific."

Currently UNESCO Islamabad office is functioning as a country office.


UNESCO is the lead agency of the UN system in the area of education. In Pakistan, UNESCO education programmes focus on the coordination and implementation of EFA (Education for All) and ESD (Education for Sustainable Development). UNESCO works closely with the Federal and Provincial Ministry/Departments of Education towards achieving MDG and EFA targets by 2015. UNESCO's emphasis is on strategic, upstream interventions e.g., the current education policy review, aiming to bring about incremental changes in the education system through dialogue with national leadership and capacity building of officials.

The Office extends technical assistance in a wide range of thematic issues affecting the education system. Interventions include post-emergency education reconstruction in the earthquake-affected areas (see below), literacy and non-formal education, early childhood education, teacher education, HIV/AIDS prevention education, the promotion of ICTs and gender equality, and the formulation of education policy and governance.

An important domain of UNESCO's work is capacity building of individuals and institutions. On-going interventions include training of district education managers in educational planning and management, capacity building on EMIS and analysis of census data, strategic reforms in teacher education, and training of educationists on HIV/AIDS prevention education.

Eradication of illiteracy in Pakistan is a particularly challenging priority area for the Government and UNESCO. In response to this demand, UNESCO has included Pakistan in its global programme "Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE)". A 2-year country-wide project on capacity building in planning and implementation of literacy programmes has recently been launched to that effect.


The main thrust of UNESCO's activities in the Culture sector focuses on safeguarding the cultural heritage of Pakistan. With financial assistance from the Government of Norway (USD 1,6m) the project 'Conservation and Preservation of the Lahore Fort' is being implemented to stabilise and protect the Shish Mahal ceiling, and to restore the Akbari Gateway, the Royal Kitchens and the "Pictured Wall". A Master Plan for the Lahore Fort site has also been developed in collaboration with the Government of Punjab.
For the project 'Conservation and Restoration of Shalamar Gardens', UNESCO received a grant from the Getty Foundation to carry out baseline studies towards overall safeguarding of the site.

With emergency assistance from the World Heritage Centre, UNESCO also undertook emergency works in the most endangered structures of the Shalamar Gardens. The Master Plan for the Shalamar Gardens has been finalized.

Shish Mahal at the Lahore Fort
Another project is 'Preservation of Endangered Moveable Cultural Assets of Gandhara Art in Pakistan', a US-funded intervention focusing on the preparation of national inventories and databases; improvement in museology and conservation; and building capacity of staff for the protection of cultural property.


Communication, information and knowledge are at the core of human progress and development. Having faith in the powers of communication, the main thrust areas for UNESCO Islamabad in C&I are:
  • > Promoting an enabling environment for freedom of expression and freedom of information;
  • > Fostering universal access to information and the development of info-structures;
  • > Promoting the development of free, independent and pluralistic media and community participation in sustainable development through community media; and,
  • > Strengthening the role of communication and information in fostering mutual understanding, peace and reconciliation.
  • All the programme activities designed under C&I aim to achieve the above mentioned objectives. Also C&I unit at UNESCO Islamabad works with education, culture and other thematic areas in an integrated and cross cutting manner.