ISLAMABAD, Dec 20: “I want all of you to study hard and become famous like Malala Yousafzai,” said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to a crowd of cheery faced students, at a ceremony at the Islamabad Model College for Boys F-8/4, officially launching the A and O level programme for public schools.

The weather was gray and grim but the name of Malala caused a hundred smiles to bloom and students cheered loudly at the prime minister’s comments.

The prime minister looking at the aspiring young faces instructed the teachers not to enforce their decisions upon the students but to give them the freedom to make their own decisions — like Malala — so they could make their own mark in the world.

According to city educationists, the students studying in public schools have much to cheer for, as at the event the prime minister formally launched the O and A level programme for public schools: a first step towards bringing public school students at par with private schools.

Minister for Capital Administration and Development (CAD) Nazar Gondal said that while most governments in the past facilitated the elite class but the current government is focusing on the middle and lower middle classes.

He said that charges for O and A levels would be 35 per cent as compared to private schools and there would be 10 per cent quota for the poor, through which free of cost education would be imparted.

Principal of F-8/4 Model College, Farrukh Sabir Masoomi said: “Monthly fee of students would be Rs5,000 compared to private schools where the fee is around Rs25,000.”

The principal even claimed that “We (F-8/4 public school) have better facilities compared to private schools. We have a computer lab, a laboratory and three cricket grounds, which can not be provided by any private school.”

The prime minister also in his speech emphasised that “government sponsored institutions should work towards improving their standards.”

On the occasion the prime minister also officially inaugurated the yellow bus project, which would give public school buses a ‘European look.’

While discussing the idea of yellow buses, Minister CAD, Nazar Gondal admitted that the idea was borrowed from abroad “in Europe and US, yellow buses are used for students. Therefore 185 buses have been painted yellow.”

Basically a look good, feel good, gesture.

The minister even seemed open to the idea of “separate lanes for school buses in Islamabad.”

Even though Pakistan is still far from having a uniform school system and the present project is just limited to Islamabad but Mr Masoom, principal of the F-8/4 school is optimistic: “At least we are moving in the right direction and this can be looked upon as a first step towards a uniform education system.”

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