ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the launch ceremony of the ‘Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships’ programme on Monday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the launch ceremony of the ‘Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships’ programme on Monday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that the ‘Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholar­ship’ programme would drive the country’s poor and talented youth to achieve excellence.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of the programme, he said people had no idea what a big change this initiative would bring.

The prime minister lauded the efforts of his special assistant and Ehsaas programme chairperson Dr Sania Nishtar for introducing the initiative, under which a total of 200,000 scholarships (50,000 per year) are to be awarded to needy students over the next four years. He elaborated that due to unemployment, the talented and intelligent youth of the country were developing intolerance and a tendency toward negative practices; however, this scholarship programme would help deserving students divert their energies toward positivity.

He said that the undergraduate scholarship programme would also help eliminate the class-based colonial education system from the country under which the elite got education from English-medium institutions, while others went for education from Urdu-medium schools and madressahs. He expressed the hope that the government scholarships would be awarded on merit and on the basis of aptitude tests, as done in Germany and France.

He also expressed appreciation for the allocation of 50 per cent and 2pc quotas for women and the differently-abled, respectively.

Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood said that the Ehsaas Scholarship would bring about a transformation in the field of education as students from low-income families would have access to academic institutions.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said that the Ehsaas Scholarship programme would prove to be a paradigm shift.

She pointed out that earlier the scholarship policies focused more on higher education. Besides merit, she said, the criteria of the Ehsaas Scholarship (in addition to tuition fee) would also include a stipend to meet living expenses — Rs 750 for boys and Rs 1,000 for girls.

Sania Nishtar said that 50pc of the scholarships would be given to girl students while 2pc had been reserved for disabled students. She said the Higher Education Commis­sion in the last 15 years gave 29,000 scholarships to undergraduate students while the Ehsaas project would provide 50,000 scholarships in one year and 200,000 in four years.

Dr Nishtar invited eligible students to visit the HEC portal.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2019