Education key to nation’s progress, development: PM

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ISLAMABAD (APP):Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday said education was the key to a nation’s progress and development and country cannot move ahead without a well educated and fully trained human resource.

Addressing a ceremony here at the Benazir Income Support Program Headquarters for the expansion of Waseela-e-Taleem program, the Prime Minister said any child without education was a burden on the society and the nation and the parents need to play their critical role in ensuring that their children were not a drop out.

Under the Waseela-e-Taleem program each beneficiary child receives a cash transfer of Rs 750 a quarter, on conditional completion of 70 percent attendance in schools in 32 districts across the four provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. The program would be extended to 50 districts and add another one million children to the current enrollment of 1.9 million.

The Prime Minister said the BISP program for the poorest of the poor, was totally non-political in nature and extended beyond the provincial boundaries. He said it empowers the women and focuses on her critical role in sending her children to school and not to work. He asked the participants from 32 districts of the country, and particularly the women to ensure that there was no child in the neighbourhood also that was deprived of education.

Abbasi said it was the only government program, which he hoped would end, after enabling the poorest and the most vulnerable families stand on their feet. He said the government was committed to the provision of education for all as it believed that without any knowledge, the society would not be able to fight the ills of extremism and terrorism.

He 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 commitments, under the Millennium Development Goals.

He said the government definitely needs to do more for education and said despite the fact that it was a provincial subject, still the federal government was obligated to provide them the guidance and vision to ensure 100% enrollment, retention and graduation. Abbasi was optimist 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.

Chairperson BISP and Minister of State Marvi Memon lauded the vision of the PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and said the program has gradually enhanced scope from Rs 40 billion annually to Rs 121 billion and would further expand in the days ahead. She was appreciative of her team for their hard work and making the various initiatives undertaken, a success.

Country head DFID Joanna Reid said the United Kingdom was partners with Pakistan in its progress and development over the past 70 years and committed to make it prosperous. She noted the strong and sustainable social network initiated by the BISP and said the UK was particularly pleased to be part of a program, half of whom were female.

She was also appreciative of the fact that now more women were registering as voters and would play their key role in strengthening democratic traditions in the country.

The World Bank Country Head Illango Patchamuthu termed Waseela-e-Taleem as a flagship safety net program and said it was amongst the top rated such programs in the world. He stressed continued good governance to ensure the success of the program and said the World Bank would continue to extend support to the BISP.

Secretary BISP Omar Hameed Khan said BISP was extending support to 504 million families and was spending Rs 111 billion per annum. He said the program was very transparent and ensured that only the eligible receive the payment after biometric verification. He hoped the conditional cash transfer would help add more children to the schools.

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