ISLAMABAD: As the prime minister directed the authorities to set up Daanish schools in Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the federal education ministry on Monday expedited efforts to materialise this initiative at the earliest.

As per the PM orders, three schools each will be set up in Azad Kashmir and GB and one school will be constructed in Islamabad. According to a statement issued by the PM’s office, “These boarding schools will accommodate 1,000 bright students each from marginalised segments of society, boasting state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment.”

It said that the focus will be on providing the best faculty to impart 21st-century skills, particularly in STEM and computer sciences, with admissions based on merit. The PM has instructed the fast-tracking of project designs for approval by the relevant authorities, with a preference for the construction on the state land.

In this regard, Education Special Secretary Mohyuddin Ahmad Wani contacted the chief secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan for PC-I of the project. “The AJK, GB and federal government are in close coordination for starting these schools as soon as possible,” he said. Speaking to Dawn, Mr Wani said that the PC-I of Daanish School in Islamabad has been prepared, which will be taken up in the Central Development Working Party’s meeting soon.

Boarding schools to cater to thousands of ‘bright students’; PC-I of Islamabad school ‘to be approved soon’

Asked about the timeline for the Islamabad project, he said: “Land had already been earmarked for this project in the Kuri area of Islamabad and the PC-I will also get approval in a few days. As per PC-1, the project should be fully completed by March 2026, he said, adding that the ministry would try its best to get it completed before the deadline.

According to the secretary, the federal secretary of education had been personally supervising the paperwork for the PC-I which would be approved in the next few days before hiring a consultant/contractor etc.

Meanwhile, GB Chief Minister Haji Gulbar Khan in a statement appreciated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for deciding to set up Daanish schools in GB. He termed this project highly beneficial for underprivileged students of areas of GB, particularly those living in far-flung areas.

Last week, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) approved a summary to set up this school in the Kuri area of the capital.

Daanish schools provide free quality education for underprivileged children in Punjab and this project was started by then chief minister Shehbaz Sharif in 2010. These schools offer boarding facilities to students. According to sources, this project is close to the heart of PM Shehbaz and he wanted to bring this education facility to Islamabad as well.

Punjab, which is also ruled by the PML-N, is also interested in establishing this school in the federal territory, apparently to help the “underprivileged and talented students” of the capital.

As of yet, there is no decision on how the school will be run. Sources said the decision about whether a new authority would be established for this school or it would be run by the Punjab Daanish schools authority has yet to be taken.

In January last year, the federal government announced the establishment of a Daanish School and Center of Excellence Authority in Balochistan to materialise Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s vision of imparting free-of-charge education to poor children of the province.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2024

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