Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the "largest ever needs-based" scholarship programme on Monday.
Addressing the launching ceremony, the prime minister said that the programme will bring a big change in the society. He said that the best way to reduce poverty is provision of opportunities to students from poor families.
He regretted that a colonial-era educational system was functioning in the country and criticised the multiple education systems which exist in Pakistan. "Three parallel systems — English medium, Urdu medium and religious seminaries — were being run in the society which was a big injustice and no one tried to [fix it] or talk about it," he said.
"According to the last update I received, some 800,000 students are studying under the English medium system, 30 million under Urdu medium and 2.5 million students are enrolled in madressahs," he said.
He said that under the programme 50,000 scholarships will be offered each year. Out of the total, two per cent quota will be allocated for physically challenged students, the premier announced, adding that 50pc of the scholarships will be provided to women.
He also emphasised the importance of a high literacy rate among women.
'Ehsaas for Students' is another project of the government's social welfare programme Ehsaas and aims to provide scholarships to about 200,000 students from lower income families over the next four years. The government will award 50,000 scholarships every year, half of which will be granted to women, the prime minister said in a tweet earlier today.
"I will launch the largest ever needs-based undergraduate scholarship programme in the history of Pakistan today. 200,000 scholarships will be awarded over the next 4 years, 50,000 every year, 50% of these for women to promote human capital development under my @Ehsaas_Pk umbrella," the premier said.
The project aims to "ensure that no student is deprived of education because of financial need". Scholarships will be awarded to students admitted to any public sector university "on merit", whose family income is "below poverty threshold".
The programme also encourages differently-abled students to apply and/or those who hail from rural or remote areas. The scholarship would cover the students' tuition fee and also provide them a stipend.
The deadline to apply for scholarships is December 10.
Ehsaas is an ambitious social safety and poverty alleviation programme launched by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government. Since the launch of the programme earlier this year, the prime minister has inaugurated multiple welfare projects under Ehsaas' umbrella including Ehsaas-Saylani Langar Scheme and Panah-gah in order to provide food and shelter to the poor.