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Education initiatives: Development assurance

Edward Everett said that “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army”. Education is a social instrument through which man can guide his destiny and shape his future. Our Islam stresses upon the education of every man and woman. It is important for the social development and economic growth of a nation as no development is possible without a skillful and trained human resource. Through education, more skilled people can be produced who can make the country developed.
Sadly, numerous international assessments could explore that Pakistan is lagging behind many countries in achieving the Education for All goal (EFA). We were the signatory to the treaty under DAKAR Framework where it was decided by all the developing countries that they will be trying to achieve the target of EFI in the meeting held in Senegal in 2000. UNESCO rates in Pakistan are at a lower EFA development index EDI. The adult literacy in Pakistan, in spite of concerned efforts, failed to go beyond the border line of 50 percent. The more embracing would be that we would not be catching the target to achieve the adult literacy by 2016. Progress towards the achievement of the targets is exceptionally slow, while gender parity goal is at risk of not being achieved by 2016. Moreover, more than 6 million children are out of school.Low allocation of funds, medium of education, infrastructure problems, because of low enrolment at primary school, adult literacy, gender equity and equality, delay in renewal process of syllabus and most important of all poverty and lack of access to quality education is the main reason behind this vulnerable situation of education. However Punjab government is now taking serious initiatives to bring Article 25-A into letter and spirit. It has shown serious concern to improve education standard and provide quality education to all. The base of a country is basically education of its young generation. Punjab government enlightened the importance of this quotation by T.S Eliot when it laid the foundation of PUNJAB EDUCATION ENDOWMENT FUND which took its initial step with a budget of two Arab Rupees which has now been raised to 16 Arabs. About 40,000 of the needy as well as talented students have been bestowed with scholarships through this funding society. A hallmark to provide access and quality education is the SPECIAL EDUCATION QUOTA SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMM 2016-17 for secondary level education. With an estimated amount of 7.5 Arabs endowment fund this program will provide around 150,000 scholarships. Anyone who has passed middle examination and belongs to any of these categories either orphans, kids of Govt. employee grade 1-4, minorities or special students are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Other requirements for being eligible is that the candidate must possess domicile of Punjab and has acquired at least 60% marks in middle exams. Parents’ total income is 15000 or less and at time of applying he must be a regular student of 9th grade in any registered organization. Other formalities include death certificate for orphans, salary slip of previous month in case of government employee, certificates from concerned religious entities and health center certificate in case of special students. 28 September is last date of registration and form can be downloaded from PEEF website. PEEF is not an ordinary scholarship scheme in the way that other scholarships merely longed for publicity. It is provided for the students of matriculation , intermediate, graduation and masters level. According to the policy of PEEF, needy and talented students need not to carry their applications for scholarships to the adamant officials but the organization itself search the students from its online record and explores the hidden talent. So PEEF has wiped out even a single doubt about the well-known fact that “PARHA-LIKHA PUNJAB” were not merely the superficial words by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif but he is personally indulged to implement it not only in Punjab but all over in Pakistan where the resources are in his reach. Before PEEF was founded most of the talented but unfortunately poor students were unable to carry on their education and make the both ends meet. This was a drastic source of destruction of a huge talent of our country.
To call it a miracle of our fortune wouldn’t be an exaggeration that we were blessed with Mr. Shahbaz Sharif who truly depicts the Islamic notion of a Minister, whom Islam considers not the owner but the servant of his people. He values the talent not superficially but from the core of his heart.
His foresight has already picked the saying of a poet i.e. ZARA NAM HO TU YE MATTI BERI ZERHAIZ HA SAQI
Surely, education serves as the backbone for the development of nations. The countries with the effective impressive need oriented, saleable and effective system of education comes out to be the leaders of the world, both socially and economically. It is only education which can turn a burden of population into productive human resource.PEEF is undoubtedly a much needed step to give boost to vulnerable education situation herein so the opportunity should be availed with full zeal and zest to make best out of it. Increased literacy rate will surely set the country to the road of progress Insha Allah.

Tahira Irfa

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