Ihsan Trust has been a ray of hope for those students seeking Higher Education in Pakistan who are having financial issues for the payment of their fee of Universities and Professional bodies. Already having lowest Literacy rates in the South Asian Region, coupled with the recent waves of natural calamities in last few years in the form of Covid -19 pandemic, floods, torrential rains etc. have exacerbated the problem of the students and because of increased poverty due to these natural calamities, they are finding it really hard to meet the expenses of higher education in Pakistan.
As around one fourth i.e. 25 percent of the population living below poverty line in Pakistan, even though a lot of NGOs like TCF, Green Crescent Trust, Care Foundation etc. are working in the primary and secondary level education, the tertiary education sector remains mostly neglected inspite of few Government (provincial and federal) initiatives like PEEF (Punjab Education Endowment Fund), Sindh Endowment Fund, Ehsaas Scholarship (which is already dwindling down after the change of federal government in 2022) etc.
With continuous increase in the population, the number of students willing to pursue higher education, globally as well as in Pakistan, is increasing every year and for that reason, more private universities are emerging to meet the demand. However, the cost of studying in private sector universities is heftier than that of public sector universities. And the fact that only a small portion of brilliant minds are admitted in public universities and most of the students are diverted to private sector universities (many by own choice as well as many private sector Universities like LUMS, Ghulam Ishaq Khan University (GIKI), IMSciences Peshawar, Aga Khan University (AKU), NUST etc. are considered to be the best in the country) implies that most of the students pursing higher education in Pakistan belongs to well-off families leading to economic disparity in Pakistan.
According to UNDP Sustainable Development Goal number 04, which is to make quality education accessible to all, disparities in education is mostly along the lines of gender, urban-rural location and other obvious dimensions. Thus, in order to have a sustainable future, Pakistan has to eradicate such disparities and establish a need blind admission system. This way Pakistan can be brought out of this vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy leading to economic disparity.
Considering the aforementioned condition of higher education sector of Pakistan and sadly the increase in poverty as well, Ihsan Trust is playing a very important role in reducing Poverty by introducing a sustainable model of enabling higher education and thus eradicating economic disparity in Pakistan.
Ihsan Trust (IT) is a nonprofit organization, founded in January 07, 2010. The major focus of Ihsan Trust is in the domain of providing Interest-Free Loan facility to the students of universities and professional bodies across Pakistan. Through this scheme, Ihsan Trust bears the educational expenses of the students on purely “Need cum Merit” basis in order to enable them to complete their Higher Education in the form of interest-free loan.
Interest Free Loan Model for Higher Education
Ihsan Trust provides Interest-Free Loan facility rather than scholarships because interest-free loans are more sustainable than scholarship. To become a bridge for students for completing their higher education, all that needs to be done is to assist them while they are studying. After the completion of education, the individuals are stable enough to return (repay) the amount invested on him/her leading Ihsan Trust to help more students in future. Unlike scholarships, the Interest-Free loans have a roll over effect while inducing a sense of responsibility in students and a drive to achieve more.
So far, Ihsan Trust has provided financial assistance to more than 3,500 students of 150+ universities and professional bodies of Pakistan including students of IBA, LUMS, GIKI, NUST, DOW, NED, COMSATS, ACCA, Riphah University, FAST NU etc. Many of those, who have completed their studies, are now securing good positions in large multinationals and local companies such as Coca Cola company, Unilever, Shell, PARCO, MBL etc. The students assisted were from humble backgrounds and today they are leading professionals in their respective fields. Since, the assistance is through interest-free loan, the roll-over funds has enabled Ihsan Trust to help students through their own repayments. Currently around 50% of the funding of students has been done through repayments in the year 2022 alone. This percentage is expected to increase in further years which implies that more students will be assisted InshaAllah through this sustainable model in future.
Ihsan Trust’s model has been acknowledged internationally as well as Ihsan Trust also won an “Islamic Economy Award” in the Waqf Category in the year 2017. It is an honor that an organization from Pakistan was selected and awarded at the Global level. Of all the nine (09) categories of awards, Ihsan Trust was the only Organization from Pakistan which won the award in any category. The annual award recognizes innovative world-class business initiatives and ideas that have contributed to the social and economic welfare of the Muslim population. This award is a symbol of appreciation, honor, a testimonial of recognition of Ihsan Trust’s services, increasing our credibility, reputation and top of it, acknowledgement of our selfless services and efforts to help and assist the poor and needy and reinvigorate the concept of “Waqf” in Islamic world.
IT has played a significant role in empowering women of Pakistan. It has been in notice that number of women pursuing higher education is lower than that of men in Pakistan. Perhaps again, poverty is one reason for this turnout. A family who can afford the higher education of only one child in the family, often choose the male child, irrespective of merit.
However, IT believes that higher education is the right of every eligible student. Ihsan Trust has facilitated many female students of different universities in Pakistan. Even working with few Women universities as well, around 50% of IT alumni base are women, and many amongst them after completing their education (by the assistance of Ihsan Trust) are now working in large multinationals and local companies in Pakistan and are able to change the financial condition of their families.
What have been achieved is just the tip of the ice-berg. Every year, the number of students forwarding their cases for financial assistance to Ihsan Trust is increasing. Like every business model, Ihsan Trust, in order to sustain, requires more financial resources, an external push every now and then to increase the number of students facilitated by them.
But that is not an obstacle in their way, it is just an opportunity for others to be a part of this great initiative and noble cause. Aiming to provide this facility to 10,000 students by the year end 2025, be it corporations or individual donors, this initiative is a sustainable investment in higher education of Pakistan and will brighten the future of the country. May Allah accept all our sincere efforts – Ameen!!!
The Author is General Manager, Ihsan Trust