ISLAMABAD: Moving into election mode, the government on Tuesday rolled out a series of funded programmes for the country’s youth by putting together a total of 15 schemes worth about Rs150 billion, some of them already in place for a few years.
The government has now brought all the schemes under the umbrella of the Prime Minister’s Youth Development Initiatives.
The rollout — formally launched by Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday in the absence of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif — came a day after the government announced that it would provide a fuel subsidy for bikes and rickshaws and cars of up to 800cc. The mechanism for the youth-oriented scheme has yet to be worked out.
The 15 youth development initiatives include 60,000 internships, technical and vocational training for 100,000 youths, 100,000 laptops, 5,000 scholarships for students of Balochistan and the erstwhile Fata, 1,000 PhD scholarships at the top 100 US universities, 75 scholarships at top 25 universities of the world, 21 university campuses in remote districts, 250 sports complexes, youth peace and development student councils in 80 universities, 75 leadership awards, 500 innovation grants worth Rs5-20 million each, Rasta grants for research, 12 Seerat chairs, seven centres of excellence, and uplift of 20 poorest districts in Pakistan.
“The two-thirds of the country’s population is based on young people who must be empowered through education and skills so that they can contribute to the socio-economic development of the country,” Mr Iqbal told the ceremony participants.
He hoped the country would cater to the youth bulge until 2050 in a manner that they utilise their abilities for economic growth.
Prime Minister’s Ba-Ikhtiyar Naujawan (Empowered Youth) Internship Programme is Pakistan’s largest internship scheme and is aimed at addressing critical entry barriers to the market and enhancing employability. Under this programme, 60,000 paid internships will be given to young graduates nationwide, both in the public and private sectors.
This included 30,000 internships in the public sector development projects with an estimated cost of Rs9.6bn and 30,000 interns in the private industrial sector at the cost of Rs9bn — both through the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) — for up to one year.
In addition, about 100,000 youth would be provided free laptops at the cost of Rs10bn. These projects are in addition to the Rs87bn already approved by the government for development schemes in the constituencies of 174 MNAs supporting the prime minister.
Under the Talented Youth Internship Programme, 30,000 unemployed, graduated youth would be provided Rs25,000 per month internship for six months in the private sector with an additional cost of Rs9bn through the Public Sector Development Programme.
The government also revived a project to provide laptops to 100,000 youth, including 20,000 youngsters in Balochistan. In addition, about 75 shining students who secure admissions to the top 25 universities would be fully funded by the government.
The minister said the incumbent government was trying its best to eradicate the deprivation of Balochistan, which remained neglected in the past, by initiating a scholarships programme for the students of Balochistan and ex-Fata.
Under this programme, 5000 scholarships will be given to the students of these two regions. These scholarships will help the students to pursue their higher education in their respective fields, he said.
He said that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the government had started a project to uplift the 20 poorest districts of the country and Rs40bn has been earmarked for this purpose.
He said he had been actively pursuing these initiatives since he assumed charge in April 2022 and recalled that under Vision 2025, several projects were launched between 2013 and 2017, but some of the projects were stopped by the previous government.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023
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