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UNESCO & UNHABITAT Hold Advocacy Seminar to Promote School Health and Environmental Friendly Behaviors among Children

UNESCO in collaboration with UNHABITAT and Government of Sindh held an advocacy seminar in Karachi on 'Healthy Schools- Healthy Settlements' to encourage health and hygiene practices among children in schools. The
objective of the event was to strengthen the capacity of schools and empower informal settlements in promoting behavior change.

The Chief Guest at the seminar was Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, Senior Minister Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh. Among the speakers and presenters were Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, Country Director, UNESCO Pakistan, Dr. Suleman Shaikh of SZABIST, Ms. Yasmeen Lari of Heritage Foundation, Dr. Riaz Memon, Special Secretary (Acting Secretary) Education and Literacy Department, GoS. Dr. Nisar Solangi from Health Reform Support Unit, Mr. Kamran Naeem from UNHABITAT, Mr. Kazi Ayaz Mahessar, UNESCO, Mr. Ghulam Nabi from RSU, Dr. Santosh Kamrani from UNESCO and Ms. Sadia Fazli from UNHABITAT.

A large number of representatives from UN Agencies, (UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, UNOCHA, UNHCR, UNFPA) CSOs, NGOs, Educationists, Government officials and electronic and print media participated at the event.

The central theme of the seminar revolved around school health, school safety and overall behavior change for safe and healthy school environment in schools. Emphasis was laid out on re-launching and up-scaling School Health Programme in all schools. Together with health, the emphasis was laid out on school safety by promoting safe construction methods. Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata in her speech said that UNESCO together with stakeholders has developed a comprehensive School Safety Plan, which has been recently endorsed by Government of Sindh. She stressed upon "creating safe, healthy, inclusive and equitably resourced educational environments, conducive to excellence in learning". It was recommended that school safety plan should be firmly adopted as an important disaster risk reduction measure in order to keep the children and community safe in case of floods, earthquake, tsunami and other natural disasters.

Ms. Yasmeen Lari presented Heritage Foundation's low-cost construction model. The model has been effectively implemented in district Mirpurkhas and Umerkot and it involves the bamboo, mud and adobe walls. The model is environmentally and climatically relevant. It creates self-sustaining and resilient communities.

Senior Minister Education, Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, in his speech, especially appreciated the efforts of UNESCO in organizing this important seminar on healthy and safe schools. He said that education is in an emergency and that all stakeholders must come forward to support Government's efforts in improving the education sector in the province. He shared the important initiatives taken by Government in improving the education system. He said that School Health is an important component of education and announced that the government will re-vitalize and up-scale school health in the province. He directed the Secretary to work more closely with UNESCO for rolling out School Health and School Safety initiatives in Sindh. He also proposed the Director UNESCO to support his department in organizing an education seminar in Sindh where he wanted his entire education machinery along with all stakeholders to participate and build a momentum and a common task force for Education for All.
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