GUJRAT: The Punjab literacy department has launched ‘Adopt a School’ programme under its initiative of ‘Friends of Literacy and Non Formal Schools’ in 36 districts of the province. As the initiative has been planned keeping in view the Covid-19 scenario, it also includes provision of face masks, hand sanitizers, soaps, besides free stationary, to the students, mainly belonging to the poor segment of society.

It has been designed to make for the funds shortage being faced by the literacy department that did not have additional financial resources for provision of these facilities to the students and teachers of non-formal schools across the province.

As per official figures, 428,000 students have been enrolled in around 13,519 non-formal schools in Punjab, with each school having one teacher, functioning under the literacy department.

The Punjab government has allocated around Rs515 million annual budget for the department to be mainly spent on the teacher’s monthly Rs7,000 stipend, and the school’s utility bills.

Philanthropists to be engaged for provision of facilities in non-formal schools

As per the approved plan of the initiative’s implementation, philanthropists would be engaged for adoption of these schools. A philanthropist/donor, approved by the district education officer (DEO-literacy), can adopt a school in his/her native district who will contribute at least Rs2,500 to 3,000 per month for stationary and Covid protection items, besides a one-time donation of Rs33,000 to Rs35,000 for the provision of bags, clothes and stationery for the students to a school.

A written agreement between the DEO (literacy) and the donor will also be signed which may last for at least one year, with the provision of extension. The agreement can, however, be revoked by any party (donor or literacy department) on solid grounds, such as involvement of the donor in illegal practices etc.

Official sources said the literacy department had sought additional funds from the finance department in August the last for the provision of such facilities to the students of these non-formal schools across the province, but the request had not been entertained yet.

They said the literacy department’s Deputy Secretary Noorul Ain Qureshi had proposed the initiative that was approved by Secretary Nadeem Mehboob.

Directions have been issued to all the DEOs across the province to launch a campaign for the plan, whereas the deputy commissioners concerned have been asked to patronise it by engaging local philanthropists for the initiative.

There is also a provision for Iinternational Non-Government Organisations (INGOs) or local NGOs adopting such non-formal schools. However, these organisations will have to get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the home department, besides completing other formalities for the purpose.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2021

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