PM orders setting up Rs25bn out-of-school-children fund

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ISLAMABAD: After declaring an education emergency in the country last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on 16 May 2024 set targets for stakeholders and gave them a road map to achieve the desired results.

In a major decision, he also ordered the setting up of a five-year Rs25 billion out-of-school-children fund.

`Out of School Children Fund, earmarking minimum Rs25 billion for five years shall be established to support innovative and effective strategies aiming to reduce out of school children in the country,` he said. Pakistan has an alarming number of over 26 million out-of-school children and in many areas students face shortage of basic facilities as well.

Meanwhile, the prime minister also ordered officials concerned to consider gradually increasing the allocations in federal and provincial budgets for education to 4pc of the GDP by 2029 for infrastructural improvements and provision of quality education.

The officials said it was also decided that the Ministry of Federal Education shall conduct a comprehensive review of out of school children and develop targeted interventions.

He said the ministry shall also propose a task force, for the prime minister’s approval, to devise and implement strategic solutions to the educational crisis at national as well as provincial levels. The task force, comprising provincial representatives and bilateral/multilateral partners, shall report directly to the Prime Minister’s Office.`Ministry of education in coordination with provincial governments shall initiate a fast track recruitment of quality across the country to improve educational standards.

The PM also ordered for launching a comprehensive national nutritional programme for improving health of school going children enhancing their learning capabilities. He also directed BISP to establish school meals initiatives in all backward districts on priority.

`Community based teaching shall be incentivized ensuring participation of every literate citizen of the country to impart education at relevant levels.

Pakistan Education Endowment Fund shall be established for sustainable financial support to students in backward districts of the country incorporating provision of merit-based scholarships to underprivileged students, he ordered.

About details of the road maps approved by the PM, officials of the education ministry said Daanish School System shall be established in provinces as centres of excellence. It was also decided that National Skill Development Programme should be launched to train 60,000 students with international certifications.

`An online educational portal shall be developed to provide access to educational resources/material and virtual learning environment for the students.

The ministry was also directed to coordinate with concerned stakeholders to expand Waseela-i-Taleem Fund to financially disadvantaged students and to utilise National Disaster Risk Management Fund to bolster educational facilities in disaster-prone areas of the country.

‘Concerted efforts shall be made for innovative educational initiatives in line with modern standards of education along with promotion of integrated approach for education is science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM),’ the officials added.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 17th May 2024.

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