PESHAWAR: The Elementary Education Foundation has decided to extend the provincial government’s programme for supporting the education of out of schools poor children in private schools to eight other districts, according to officials.

They said that with the extension of the programme to eight more districts, 40,000 more out of schools children would be enrolled in private schools in the areas where government schools were not set up within 1.5 kilometre radius.

The provincial government has been supporting out of school poor children under its Iqra Faroghe Taleem Voucher Scheme since April 2015. Currently more than 16,000 students are getting education at the government’s expenses in six districts including Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Mansehra, Mardan and Swat.

The officials said that the voucher programme would be extended to Charsadda, Bannu, Shangla, Dir Lower, Lakki Marwat, Nowshera, Swabi and Buner from the next academic year.

Elementary Education Foundation to extend govt’s programme to eight more districts

They said that Rs1 billion was proposed for bearing the expenses of 40, 000 students for three years. They said that PC-1 of the programme was ready for approval.

“Under the voucher scheme, the provincial government has been paying Rs500 as tuition fee to the students, enrolled in the private primary schools through vouchers,” said the officials.

Similarly, the tuition fee for students of middle class is Rs600. The fee of the students enrolled in high and high secondary classes is Rs800. Under the programme, the students would be paid Rs3500 for books and uniform annually.

Officials said that voucher scheme was applicable to those children, whose parents couldn’t afford expenses of their education in private schools.

“EEF has hired a firm to identify the eligible students in the extended districts which has already commenced its data collection,” they added.

A senior officer in elementary and secondary education department told Dawn that an extensive campaign would be launched for the awareness of the parents and owners of the private schools.

He said that a year ago, when the programme was launched, the firm had identified 30,000 out of school children but only 16,000 could be enrolled because of the unawareness of the parents and owners of the schools.

During the process of out of school children identification, he said, the parents showed willingness to enrol their children in private schools at government’s expenses during the selection drive.

However, when the enrolment process was started, 14,000 of the selected students couldn’t be enrolled for various reasons, said the official.

He said that lack of awareness about importance of education among the parents and earning money as child labour by most of the out of school children were main reasons for not enrolling their children in the schools.

“Many parents have refused enrolment of their children in private schools because they think that the school fee will be paid by NGOs,” said the official. He said that the parents had negative perception regarding NGOs.

Similarly, he said, the parents sometime also demanded other incentives like edible items for enrolling their children.

Published in Dawn November 3rd, 2016