Mainstreaming of youth

According to an estimate, about 28 per cent of total population of Pakistan is aged between 15 to 29 years. By 2040, more than two decades from now, this population is expected to increase to 40 per cent of the total population. This exception youth bulge, which is also called Youth Dividend, offers an opportunity to harness their potential for prosperity and development of the country. Unemployment, poverty, disparity in education, illiteracy and non-engagement are the great risks to this dividend. Realising this, the incumbent federal government on coming into power in 2013 launched a number of initiatives, one after the other, for mainstreaming of the youth through education, skill development, entrepreneurship, training, employment, engagement, empowerment, sports and recreational facilities across the country.
Prime Minister’s Youth Programme as such is a flagship initiative of the federal government for youth empowerment which is being quite successfully implemented all over the country through national financial institutions and recognized training institutes. Under the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme, Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme, Prime Minister’s Interest Free Loan Scheme, Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Programme, Prime Minister’s National Programme for the Provision of Laptops, Prime Minister ‘s Fee Reimbursement Scheme for Less Developed Areas and Prime Minister’s Youth Training Scheme have been launched for mainstreaming the youth wealth of Pakistan.
These programmes are being run quite successfully in a result-oriented manner and every year, funds are duly being increased appreciably to ensure more and more targeted youth population avail these initiatives for channelizing their potentials and energies in the right direction positively towards building a progressive and developing Pakistan. On the basis of successful and beneficial implementation of these six programmes, which are being mentioned here briefly putting facts and figures together of progress during 2016-17 and continuation during on-going financial year 2017-18, it is sincerely hoped and wished that if the ruling party is returned to power by the electorate in the general election to be held in another few months from now, then these pogrammes will not only be continued further but also allocations for each of these programmes will also hopefully be increased to cover more and more of the country’s youth population.
Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme is designed to provide subsidized financing for nearly one hundred thousand beneficiaries through designated national financial institutions namely National Bank of Pakistan and First Women Bank which offer small business loans ranging from Rs 0.1 to 2.0 million with tenure of up to 8 years including first year as a grace period. The loan under the scheme is disbursed to potential entrepreneurs across Pakistan. All young Pakistani men and women with a valid CNIC, in the age group of 21 to 45 years and having entrepreneurial potential are eligible to apply for these loans.
According to figures available from the National Bank of Pakistan, 17051 cases have been processed and a total amount of Rs 17.07 million has been disbursed among them and the recovery rate of the loans is as high as 92.5 per cent which in all fairness is quite commendable and appreciable positively reflecting on the youth’s honesty and integrity. Prime Minister’s Interest Free Loan Scheme is targeted at the socio-economic uplift of under-development areas of the country. Vulnerable rural and urban poor areas with poverty score of up to 40 are eligible to apply under this scheme. Fifty per cent of loans are earmarked to be given to the female borrowers, which will empower them both socially and financially.
The scheme is aimed at engaging the population of these areas in broadening economic activities and strengthening the process of development. Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) is the executing agency of the scheme, which has engaged as many as 26 Partner Organizations having necessary expertise in the field in the field. An allocation of Rs 3.5 billion has initially been made for this scheme. The fund shall be sustainable by ensuring that the amount returned will be deposited in a permanent fund available for the community for future lending on revolving basis.
Against budget allocation of Rs 3.5 billion, amount disbursed in the first year of 2016-17 is Rs 6.11 billion. Number of borrowers is quite appreciably stands at 272,092 including as much as 62 females i.e. 168555 and male borrowers 103537 and recovery rate is as high as 99 per cent.. To begin with, 431 Union Councils in 44 districts across the country whereas Benazir Income Support Programme beneficiaries stand at 54000. Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Programme is aimed at providing six months vocational and technical training in demand-driven trades to 25000 unemployed youth, for acquiring producing productive skills for gainful employment.
Monthly stipend of Rs 3500 is paid to each beneficiary of the scheme; the trainees from FATA are paid Rs 4000 each. This scheme focuses on students who have passed eighth grade (middle level education) and are up to 36 years of age. National Vocational and Technical Commission (NAVTTC) of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training is the executing agency of this scheme. NAVTTC engages nation-wide public and private sector vocational and technical training institutes following a competitive evaluation.
Financial allocation for first year 2014-15 was Rs 0.8 billion which was increased to Rs 1.18 billion during 2015-16,further to Rs 2.63 billion during 2016-17 with targeted trainees for the first two years stood at 25000 each and increased to 50000 for 2016-17. During first year, 24934 trainees were provided vocational and professional training in 100 trades, during second year 24887 trainees in 195 trades and 23596 trainees were imparted training in 85 trades. The Prime Minister’s National Programme for Provision of Laptops to the talented and intelligent students on the basis of good academic results is another attempt to enhance the scope of research and quality education and to increase access to information technology in the country. Annually, substantial number of 100,000 laptops targeted to be distributed among the students, both male and female, registered in any of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) approved public sector educational institutions. Additionally, MS, M Phil and PhD students are also given laptops under this scheme, while the remaining laptops are distributed among Master’s and Bachelors’ students on the basis of their academic results and merit.
The scheme has nationwide outreach. The Higher Education of the Federal Ministry of Education and Professional Trainings is the executing agency for this scheme. According to the updated status of the scheme, in the first phase during 2015-16, 34401 laptops were distributed in Punjab province whereas 21074 students were provided laptops, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) 14773 laptops were given, Islamabad 24118 laptops, Balochistan 4318, Gilgit-Baltistan 346 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir 2970 students got the laptops.
In the second phase in 2016-17, merited excellent academic results showing 40509 students were given laptops, in Sindh 12767 students, Khybder Pakhtunkhwa and FATA 12371 students, Balochistan 2987, Gilgit-Baltistan 18386, Islamabad 470 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir 2029 students became entitled to get laptops on the basis of their excellent academic results and merits . On the whole, during two years total number of 189519 students was given laptops against target of two lakhs Another initiative for the youth is the Prime Minister’s Fee Reimbursement Scheme for less developed areas throughout the country and aims a encouraging the pursuit of higher education for students registered in a Masters/M Phil/PhD progrmme in any Higher Education Commission (HEC) public sector educational institution and domiciled in Interior Sindh, Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions located in Southern Punjab, Balochistan, less-developed areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa namely Malakand, Kohistan, Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Batgram, Kala Dhaka/Torghar, Hangu, Kohat, Bannu and Karak, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA are eligible to apply under this scheme to the executing agency Higher Education Commission .
During last four years from 2013-14 to 2016-17, total of Rs 6.5 billion have been allocated for this scheme and on the whole 171034 students have availed the facility from all over less-developed areas of the country. And, the Prime Minister’s Youth Training Scheme is aimed at professional development of young graduates in order to equip them with abilities to avail job opportunities both in the local and international market by providing them one year paid on job training /internships at private aand public sector departments/organizations.
All graduates, aged 25, and 16 years education or 03 Years Diploma in Associate Engineering after Matric/FA along with Madaris graduates possessing degrees equivalent to that of Masters’ are eligible to apply under this scheme. A monthly stipend of Rs 12000 is paid to each selected internee for a period of 12 months. The scheme is being executed under the National Internship Programme of the Federal Inter-Provincial Coordination.
According to the latest available information, total of Rs 7.9 billion have been paid to 49847 interns placed under first phase and another 50 thousand interns are to be placed under the second phase and 2618 public and public sectors employers are the facilitators who provide jobs to the internees after their training. It is important to point out that the outreach of the on-going all six programmes i.e. business loan, interest free loan, skilled development, laptop scheme, fee reimbursement and training has been expanded to the entire country including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir during the ongoing financial year 2017-18.
In total, about three hundred thousand youth of the country have already availed or in the process of availing the benefit so accruing from these pro-youth initiatives of the federal government. During the ongoing financial, total higher financial allocation of as much Rs 31.9 billion have been provided including PM ‘s Interest Free Loan Rs 5.0 billion, PM’s Youth Skill Development Programme Rs 6.5 billion, PM’s Fee- Reimbursement Scheme Rs 3.0 billion, PM’s Youth Training Scheme Rs 11.5 billion, PM’s Youth Laptop Scheme Rs 5.4 billion and PM’s Youth Business Loan Subsidy Rs 0.5 billion. This only highlights the importance which the federal government is attaching to the youth also like other segments of the society for whose welfare and well-being it has been and is working dedicatedly and devotedly all last four years after coming into power and also during ongoing financial year prior to the upcoming next general elections in next couple of months.

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