Financial access to education

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched the need-based ‘Ehsas Undergraduate Scholarship Programme’ that is expected to go a long way in providing financial access to education by the poor. Describing it as an initiative to bring about a meaningful change in the society, he said in a bid to rescuing our youth from joblessness and menace of narcotics, it is essential to establish more educational institutions in the country. He also announced that a ration programme was also in the offing in which the poorest of poor families will be provided with flour, ghee, pulses, sugar and other necessities of life.
With the passage of time, quality and professional education is becoming a dream for an average citizen because of unbearable fees and related expenses, which amounts to effectively depriving him of one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution as well. Affluent segments of the society can afford any price for education be it at home or abroad but ordinary citizens cannot fulfil their aspirations to equip their children of modern higher education as one semester fee of even public sector universities is close to one hundred thousand rupees and one can imagine the total expenses including transport charges, books and pocket money. The situation becomes more complicated if one has to admit more than one child in institutions of higher learning and in such cases girls become the victim of non-admission for financial reasons. The new programme would, therefore, not just help cater to the educational needs of the poor families but also encourage admission of more girls for higher education. However, the condition of poverty line for the programme as also a similar programme announced by the Punjab Government is not appropriate as educational expenses in the range of Rs 20,000 to 50,000 per month (depending on number of university going children) cannot be borne by a middle class family as well. As for ration card programme, the scheme appears to be a sincere effort to mitigate sufferings of the inflation-stricken poorest of the poor but people have bitter memory of such schemes launched in the past when people got subsidized ration at the cost of self-respect — standing in queues for hours to get wheat flour and sugar.

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