The Punjab government has provided a sum of Rs10 billion to the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) to promote school education in marginalised areas through public private partnership.
The PEF will sponsor the education of 1.5 million deserving students in 36 districts, next year, through a network of partner schools. “The model of public- private partnership is very effective in eradicating poverty and ignorance through the promotion of quality education,” said PEF representative Imran Malik. “This project will help all families who cannot afford to send their children to costly educational institutions. Education should not only be a privilege available to the rich,” he added.
PEF chairperson Raja Muhammad Anwar addressed a meeting of partner schools at the district coordination meeting held at the board auditorium in Bahawalpur on Saturday. Teachers and school owners of PEF partner schools in the Bahawalpur and Lodhran districts attended the DCM and termed the public private partnership as a model for a progressive education system. “The system can prove to be the best option for students in the current socio-economic conditions prevalent in the country,” he added.
Addressing the DCM, Raja Anwar said that besides arranging formal education, skills development programs were also being introduced in three districts, in the first phase.
Anwar said that the second phase of the education project would prepare secondary school students in order to mobilise them into a viable human resource. “We also want to impart practical education so that when these children leave school they can prove to be an asset to our local industry and help us improve our trade,” he added.
Highlighting the educational initiatives of the Punjab Government, Raja Anwar told reporters that a sum of Rs46 billion will be spent on the education sector to elevate it according to international standards. Due to the launch of a school reforms program, as many as one million new students ranging from five to nine years have been enrolled in schools during the last two years in Punjab. “Education is being made free for all public school children and this was the first step to getting children in school. Now we are working on improving literacy and the standard of this education,” he added.
The Punjab government is also distributing Rs one billion worth of stipends among female students from remote and deprived areas to encourage the education of girls. Similarly, the Punjab government has also outlined it’s plans to establish universities for women in Bahawalpur, Multan, Sialkot and Faisalabad so that new opportunities of higher education for women can be enhanced.
Anwar impressed upon teachers to highlight and promote leadership abilities in their students and help them develop into confident and energetic leaders. Later, he distributed prizes among partner school students who scored top positions in the elementary exams held by Punjab Examination Commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2011.