x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Downturn hurts needy pupils in Pakistan

A group devoted to fighting illiteracy in Pakistan is blaming poor economic conditions for an expected shortfall in donations from the UAE, its oldest and biggest foreign supporter.

DUBAI // A group devoted to fighting illiteracy in Pakistan is blaming poor economic conditions for an expected shortfall in donations from the UAE, its oldest and biggest foreign supporter. The Citizens Foundation (TCF), Pakistan's largest educational non-governmental organisation (NGO), relies heavily on donations from the region to support its 600 schools, which educate 80,000 children.

By April this year, the number of TCF academies is expected to rise to 650 and serve 95,000 children. Last year, TCF raised 568 million rupees (Dh24.5m) worldwide. Almost a third of that came from the Emirates. Group officials blamed the economic downturn for the decrease in funding. "We have lost some donors, some have shelved or postponed their commitments," said Mushtaq Chhapra, one of six founding directors who attended the UAE Supporters Conference in Dubai last Wednesday. "We are being very cautious and taking extreme measures."

In 1998, the UAE became the first country outside Pakistan to support TCF. Government statistics suggest that around 50 per cent of Pakistanis are literate. The government aims to increase that figure by more than 15 per cent by the end of the year. asafdar@thenational.ae