Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the government was focused on providing education to children across the country by giving financial incentives to parents to encourage enrollment in schools.
Addressing the launch of the Ehsaas Education Stipends programme in Islamabad, the prime minister said the government was making efforts to ensure the inclusion of at least 20 million out-of-school children in the educational system.
The premier said ensuring education for all was a priority of the government, adding that stipends would play a role in encouraging parents to send their children, particularly girls to schools.
Imran said the western world was wrong to assume that Pakistani parents do not send their girls to schools for education.
According to the PM, he has visited almost all parts of Pakistan and nowhere has he met any parents who opposed girls’ right to education.
There are other issues for the low ratio of girls in schools, he said, adding that at times schools are far away and parents worry for the safety of their daughters and Imran also identified the issue of ghost schools.
He said parents across Pakistan want to send their children to school but former governments failed to take measures to make education accessible to all, especially for girls.
Underscoring the importance of education, he said an educated woman could contribute more positively towards society and lauded the policy of Ehsaas Stipends programme to give a higher amount to girls.
The premier said the government would also take measures to weed out ghost schools and for that, it would use the latest technology to monitor schools and identify fake entries.
He maintained that the the Ehsaas programme would help the government reach these goals as it was mainly the responsibility of the government to provide facilities of education to all.
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.
Rolled out nationwide in 160 districts, the programme has been structured to give a higher amount of stipend to girls as compared to boys.
PM’ Special Assistant to Social Welfare Dr Sania Nishtar said under the Ehsaas Education Stipends, primary school boys would get quarterly stipends of Rs1,500 and girls Rs2,000; secondary school boys would get Rs2,500 and girls Rs3,000, and boys will get Rs3,500 and girls Rs4,000 a quarter at the higher secondary level.
She also said that all education stipends would be paid biometrically to mothers on the attainment of 70 per cent attendance of their children.
Poverty is one of the most persistent barriers to acquiring education. Presently, there are 18.7 million children in the age group 6 to 16 who remain out of school in the country and the fall out of COVID-19 has also accentuated it.
The ‘Demographic and Health Survey 2017’ (Kaplan and Meier estimates) indicates that the dropout rate is highest for the poorest two quintiles in secondary education.
The Household Income and Expenditure Survey (1990-2018) featuring enrollment trends for both boys and girls in primary and secondary education reveal that girls are severely disadvantaged in initial enrollment levels for the poorest quintile, and they drop out faster from grades 5-8.