ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday inaugurated the expansion of ‘Waseela-e-Taleem’ programme which focuses on enrollment and retention of primary school going children in 50 districts across Pakistan.
The education initiative is a part of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Under the programme, each beneficiary child receives a cash transfer of Rs750 per quarter on conditional completion of 70 per cent attendance in schools in 32 districts across the four provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
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The programme is being extended to 50 districts and hopes to add another one million children to the current enrollment of 1.9 million.
The inauguration was held at the BISP headquarters and was attended by Minister of State and Chairperson BISP MNA Marvi Memon, BISP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan, ministers, diplomats, World Bank Country Representative Ilango Patchamuthu, DFID Country Head Joanna Reid, BISP beneficiaries and primary schoolchildren and students from Roots International.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Abbasi said, “Education is the key to a nation’s progress and development and country cannot move ahead without a well-educated and fully-trained human resources.”
He said a child without education is a burden on society and “the nation and parents need to play their critical role in ensuring that their children do not drop out”.
He said the BISP programme for the poorest segments of society is totally non-political in nature and extended beyond provincial boundaries. “It empowers women and focuses on her critical role in sending her children to school and not to work,” he said.
The PM asked the participants from 32 districts of the country, particularly the women, to ensure that there was no child in their neighbourhoods that was deprived of education.
He said the government was committed to the provision of education for all as it believed that without education, society would not be able to fight the ills of extremism and terrorism.
Abbasi was appreciative of the role of the BISP and its partners, the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK, for helping the country achieve its target of universal education for all, under the Millennium Development Goals.
He said the government needed to do more for education. He said despite education being a provincial subject, the federal government was obligated to provide guidance and vision to ensure 100 per cent enrollment, retention, and graduation.
The PM was optimistic that the target of adding another one million children to the already-enrolled 1.9 million would be achieved. He, however, asked the BISP to ensure that quality education was imparted to children under the programme.
BISP Chairperson Memon lauded the vision of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and said the programme had gradually enhanced scope from Rs40 billion annually to Rs121 billion and would further expand in the days ahead.
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She was appreciative of her team for their hard work and for making the various initiatives undertaken, a success. She also assured the prime minister that the BISP would achieve further milestones in the days to come.
DFID Country Head Joanna Reid said the UK had been partners with Pakistan in its progress and development for the past 70 years and committed to making it prosperous. She noted the strong and sustainable social network in the form of 60,000 BISP Beneficiary Committees (BBCs) initiated by the BISP and said the UK was particularly pleased to be part of the Waseela-e-Taleem programme in which about half of children are girls.
World Bank Country Head Illango Patchamuthu termed the Waseela-e-Taleem as a flagship safety net programme and said it was amongst the top-rated such programs in the world. He stressed continued good governance to ensure the success of the programme and said the World Bank would continue to extend support to the BISP.
The BISP secretary, in his welcome remarks, said that the BISP was extending support to 5.4 million families and was spending Rs121 billion per annum. He shared the achievements of the Waseela-e-Taleem programme and added that the conditional cash transfer would help add more children to schools. He also thanked the development partners for their contribution to making the Waseela-e-Taleem programme a success.
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