The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have visited a nursery on their first full day of engagements in Pakistan. William and Kate were shown around a school in capital Islamabad this morning as their official five-day visit got underway. The royal couple, who arrived in Pakistan yesterday, squeezed into tiny chairs as they talked to youngsters at Islamabad Model College for Girls. Kate was wearing a royal blue kurta, a traditional long shift blouse over trousers, for the visit, while William wore a light blue shirt and dark trousers. The royals were later told about the benefits of the Teach For Pakistan programme, a fast-track teacher training scheme modelled on the UK’s successful Teach First. Pupils at the school, which is located in one of the most disadvantaged areas and teaches boys and girls aged from four to 18, have flourished as a result of the scheme.
The duke took the opportunity to talk about a subject close to his heart – mental health. He discussed the UK’s policy of teaching school children about mental health issues, adding: ‘In the UK we’re trying to make sure mental health is part of education as well.’ The royal couple were due to learn more about how students are benefiting from the Teach For Pakistan programme, a fast-track teacher training scheme modelled on the UK’s successful Teach First.
Area education officer Mohammed Sohailkhan told reporters that the quality of education – particularly for girls – varies across the country. He said: ‘In recent years there has been gradual progress in understanding how important education is for girls and young women. ‘There is a realisation of what it can mean in terms of jobs and prospects. ‘I can’t paint you an entirely rosy picture. ‘It does still fluctuate wildly, particularly in rural regions, where there has traditionally been cultural barriers towards this, notably in terms of sending girls away to college. ‘But these barriers are slowly being broken down.’
The royals are also due to visit children from three local schools in the Margalla Hills, which sit in the foothills of the Himalayas. William and Kate will then have lunch with Prime Minister Imran Khan and attend a special reception at the National Monument in their first full day of engagements. UK aid has helped more than 5.5 million girls get a quality education since 2011, according to the British High Commission.