Imran Khan launches Ehsaas Education Stipends Programme
Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the government was making attempts to ensure the inclusion of 20 million out-of-school children in the educational system, and, for this purpose, planned to give financial incentive to their parents to encourage their enrollment in schools. Addressing the launch of Ehsaas Education Stipends programme in the federal capital, Imran Khan said ensuring education for all was a priority of the government of Pakistan. The Stipends would play a role in encouraging parents to send their children, mainly girls, to schools. Lauding the policy of Ehsaas Stipends programme to give higher amount to girls, PM also said an educated woman could contribute more positively towards the society. Terming educated human resource a great asset for a nation, PM stressed on the provision of educational opportunities to both boys and girls. PM said the western world was wrong to assume that Pakistani parents did not send their girls to schools for education. Imran Khan recalled that during his visit to dissimilar parts of Pakistan, he did not get to meet a single parent who opposed the right of education to their daughters. There are other issues for low ratio of girls in schools, he said, adding that at times schools were far away and parents were worried for the safety of their daughters. Economists identified that education being the fundamental human right, stands most significant element in evolution of human progress and nation development. It develops capabilities to fight against injustice, violence, corruption and many other social evils. Sustainable socio-economic development of a country depends on substantial investment in its human capital through education and skill development. It is also identified that educated people work as an effective tool in accepting and adopting innovative ideas and means of productivity/technologies, ensuring the elimination of economic and social ailments. Further, as a dividend, it brings socio-economic progress also prosperity in Pakistan. An educated and skilled nation is productive enough to accelerate economic growth by expanded vision, creativity and, innovations in Pakistan. PM Imran Khan said the government would take measures to weed out ghost schools and for that, it would use latest technology to monitor schools, disburse stipends transparently and identify fake entries. He underlined that it was chiefly the responsibility of the government of Pakistan to offer the facility of education to all. The Ehsaas Education Stipends programme aims at offering financial assistance to deserving households for the education of their children at primary, secondary and higher secondary levels. Rolled out nationwide in 160 districts, the programme has been structured to give a higher amount of stipend to girls as compared to boys. Furthermore, PM’s special assistant to social welfare Dr Sania Nishtar said under the Ehsaas Education Stipends, the primary school boys would get quarterly stipends of Rs 1,500 and girls Rs 2,000; secondary school boys would get Rs2,500 and girls Rs3,000; and at the higher secondary level, boys will get Rs 3,500 and girls Rs 4,000 a quarter. She said all education stipends would be paid biometrically to mothers on the attainment of 70 percent attendance of their children. Dr Sania pointed that as part of the “Post-Covid-Ehsaas Strategy”, Ehsaas Education Stipends would empower deserving families to overcome financial barriers in accessing higher education. Presently, there are 18.7 million children in the age group 6 to 16 who remain out of school in the country and the fall out of Covid-19 has also accentuated it. The Demographic and Health Survey 2017 (Kaplan and Meier estimates) shows that the dropout rate is highest for the poorest two quintiles in secondary education. The Household Income and Expenditure Survey (1990-2018) featuring enrollment trends for both boys and girls in primary and secondary education reveal that girls are severely disadvantaged in initial enrollment levels for the poorest quintile, and they drop out faster from grades 5-8. Separately, while chairing a meeting in Islamabad, the premier emphasised the promotion of technical and vocational education to equip the youth with knowledge and expertise. He directed to introduce a plan of reward and punishment for the education system so that effective implementation of government policies for the promotion of higher education could be ensured. He instructed to devise a strategy for the maximum utilisation of financial resources provided through the federation besides ensuring a higher standard of education in universities being run with the cooperation of the federal government in provinces. The premier advised reviewing the scholarship programme of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for effective use of the country’s resources. He asked the authorities concerned to complete the ongoing projects for the promotion of higher education on a priority basis. The meeting was apprised that Rs 42 billion had been assigned for the present fiscal year for HEC to implement its 168 projects. These include 128 ongoing projects worth Rs29 billion and 40 new projects worth Rs12 billion.