Pkistan, Turkey formalize deal for literacy promotion

_: Pakistan and Turkey on Wednesday inked an agreement for the promotion of literacy in the South Asian country.

The agreement was signed by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Pakistan’s Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood in the capital Islamabad, said a statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.

“The agreement will further strengthen the legal basis of Pak-Turk Maarif Foundation, ensure its institutionalization, and pave the way for us to open new schools in Pakistan,” Cavusoglu, who is in Pakistan on a two-day visit, said while visiting the Pak-Turk Maarif School’s Islamabad campus.

He said Turkey is honored to contribute to the education and future of Pakistan, saying the foundation also plans to open universities in Pakistan.

Underlining its activities around the world, the Turkish foreign minister said it has 331 schools, one university, 12 education centers, and more than 40,000 students in 42 countries.

“One day, we would like to see a brother who attended a Pak-Turk Maarif school to serve as the foreign minister of brotherly Pakistan, and listen to him on this podium,” he said.

The deal was approved a day earlier in a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Following the agreement, Turkey’s Maarif Foundation, which currently has the status of an international non-governmental organization, will be treated as a Turkish government institution in Pakistan.

“After this, Maarif Foundation will be able to expand its operations in Pakistan in terms of opening and running new campuses, cultural and educational centers, language centers, student exchange programs, and scholarships,” according to Harun Kucukaladagli, the organization’s country director for Pakistan.

The foundation’s activities and operations will fall under the ambit of the two governments after the agreement, he said.

Maarif Foundation currently has 27 schools and colleges across Pakistan catering to over 12,000 students in 10 cities, including Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.

The number of teaching and non-teaching staff affiliated with these academic institutes is over 1,700.

Turkey established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 to take over the administration of overseas schools previously linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

The organization assumed control of schools in Pakistan in January 2019.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in Turkey, in which 251 people were martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

FETO has a considerable presence abroad, including private schools that serve as a revenue stream for the terror group.

Source: Anadolu Agency