“Education is the key to progress. There is no shortage of resources to provide quality education to our children,” Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Friday.
“The provincial government is starting a scheme to enroll all out-of-school children,” the chief minister said at the inauguration of the kids’ enrollment scheme 2016, a drive launched under the Parho Punjab, Barho Punjab initiative.
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Citing an independent survey, Sharif said 92 per cent enrollment had been achieved in the province. He said keeping the high-enrollment rate intact was the real challenge. He said the government machinery, including ministers and secretaries, would have to work hard to educate children across the Punjab.
The chief minister said 5,000 IT labs had been established at schools across the province. He said 180,000 teachers had been recruited over the last seven years. He said billions of rupees in scholarships had been distributed among students under the Punjab Education Endowment Fund. “The scholarships have been given to students who are unable to get education on their own,” he said.
Sharif said the Punjab Education Foundation had introduced a voucher scheme under which deserving children were given the opportunity to receive education at private schools. Thousands of children are benefitting from the scheme, he said.
The chief minister called upon teachers at public schools to achieve the standards of education on a par with private schools. He said the teachers’ attendance should be 99 per cent… more teachers should be appointed, if need be, he said.
Sharif said he favoured a third-party audit to evaluate steps being taken to improve the standards of education. He said steps were under way to end child labour at brick kilns. Such children were being enrolled at schools, he said.
The chief minister said hundreds of kilns owners had been arrested over child labour. He said the quality of education given to girls and boys should be the same.
Commenting on the Orange Line Metro Train project, Sharif said those opposing the scheme were not keen on the welfare of common man. “A handful of the elite are trying to create hurdles in the way of this project.”
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The chief minister said the common man should have access to education, health, socio-economic justice, potable water and modern transport facilities. “Time is money. The God has granted us an opportunity to stand on our own feet,” he said. He said he was hopeful that Pakistan would soon be regarded a prosperous country.
Sharif inaugurated the enrollment campaign for 2016 by signing admission forms of children and handing them books, bags and stationary.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2016.
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