- Programme being rolled out nationwide in 160 districts.
- Girls will be given a higher stipend than boys to encourage their participation in school.
- Stipends to be disbursed transparently through the use of technology, says PM.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that efforts are underway to bring 20 million out-of-school children back to school.
His remarks came as he addressed the launch of the Ehsaas Education Stipends programme.
PM Imran Khan said that the government was focused on providing education to all children across the country and giving incentives to prevent students from dropping out of schools.
He added that efforts were underway to ensure the inclusion of out-of-school children into the educational mainstream.
The Ehsaas Education Stipends programme aims at providing financial assistance to deserving households for the education of their children at primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels, the prime minister said.
The programme is being rolled out nationwide in 160 districts and it has been structured to give a higher amount of stipend to girls as compared to boys.
The prime minister said ensuring education for all was a priority of the government, adding that stipends as incentives would encourage parents to send their children, particularly girls, to schools.
‘Educated human resources a great asset’
He said an educated woman could contribute more positively towards society and lauded the policy of Ehsaas Stipends programme to give higher amounts to girls.
Terming “educated human resources a great asset” for a nation, he said it was important to provide educational opportunities to both boys and girls. He dismissed the impression that Pakistanis did not want to educate their girls.
He recalled that during his visits to different parts of the country, he found no parents opposing the right to an education for their daughters. He added, however, that distant schools and the unavailability of female teachers could be reasons to avoid doing so.
PM Imran Khan said it was the government’s responsibility to provide education to all.
He said that with the use of information technology, stipends would be disbursed transparently after the proper checking of fake entries and ghost schools.
The prime minister also announced a one-time Ehsaas graduation bonus of Rs3,000 to encourage girls to complete primary education.
The award will be given to girl students completing Grade 5 from Ehsaas eligible families. The graduation bonus has been designed to encourage education of girls till secondary level.
Ehsaas Education Stipends
Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Welfare Dr Sania Nishtar announced the Ehsaas Education Stipends, as follows:
- Primary school boys would get quarterly stipends of Rs1,500.
- Primary school girls would get Rs2,000.
- Secondary school boys would get Rs2,500.
- Secondary school girls would get Rs3,000.
- Higher secondary level boys will get Rs3,500
- Higher secondary level girls will get Rs4,000.
She said that all education stipends would be paid biometrically to mothers on the attainment of 70% attendance of their children.
Nishtar said that as part of the “post-COVID Ehsaas strategy”, Ehsaas Education Stipends would empower deserving families to overcome financial barriers in accessing higher education.
She further said that poverty is one of the most persistent barriers to the acquiring of education.
Presently, there are 18.7 million children in the age group 6 to 16 who remain out of school and COVID-19 has only accentuated the problem, she said.
Waseela-e-Taleem vs Ehsaas program
Nishtar, while comparing the Ehsaas programme to an older similar programme, revealed that Pakistan has been running an Education Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) for primary school-going children called Waseela-e-Taleem since 2012 in selected districts.
However, the programme encountered a number of challenges including the high administrative costs charged by NGOs, high levels of error and fraud due to the programme being paper-based, weak compliance monitoring, limited human resources to enrol students, and a low stipend.
The programme was also limited to the 5th grade and did not include secondary education, whereas studies have revealed that school drop-out rates increase with age, especially in the case of girls of classes 5 to 8, owing to transport and other associated costs.
She added that the previously run education CCT was limited in geographic scope and lacked appropriate federal-provincial partnerships. Payments were also plagued with challenges, Nishtar said.
The Ehsaas programme, in contrast, is a cost-effective programme, spread nationwide with no reliance on NGOs, she said.
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The operational cost of Ehsaas has been reduced from 8% to 3%, she said, adding that the end-to-end digitisation of a number of processes has also eliminated chances of misuse.
Furthermore, compliance monitors have been hired and a Project Monitoring Unit has also been established.
In addition, through an MoU with the National Commission on Human Development, an additional 1,000 staff members have been engaged to enrol students.