ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi here on Wednesday said that the Waseela-e-Taleem programme would be extended to 50 districts and another one million children would benefit from it.

Addressing a ceremony at the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Headquarters for the expansion of Waseela-e-Taleem programme, the Prime Minister said any child without education was a burden on the society and the nation and the parents needed to play their role in ensuring that their children did not dropout.

Under the Waseela-e-Taleem programme each beneficiary child receives a cash transfer of Rs 750 a quarter, on conditional completion of 70 per cent attendance in schools in 32 districts across the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Prime Minister said that education was the key to a nation’s progress and development, and the country could not progress without a well-educated and fully-trained human resource.

He said that the BISP programme for the poorest of the poor was totally non-political in nature and extended beyond the provincial boundaries.

The Prime Minister said that it empowered the women and focused on her critical role in sending her children to school and not to work.

He asked the participants from 32 districts of the country, and particularly the women to ensure that there was no child in the neighbourhood too that was deprived of education.

Abbasi said that it was the only government programme, which he hoped would end, after enabling the poorest and the most vulnerable families stand on their feet.

He said that the government was committed to the provision of education for all as it believed that without any knowledge, the society would not be able to fight the ills of extremism and terrorism.

Abbasi was appreciative of the role of the BISP and its partners, the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK, for helping Pakistan achieve its target of universal education for all commitments, under the Millennium Development Goals.

He said that the government definitely needed to do more for education and said that despite the fact that it was a provincial subject, still the Federal government was obligated to provide them the guidance and vision to ensure 100 per cent enrolment, retention and graduation.

Abbasi was optimist that the target of adding another one million children to the already enrolled 1.9 million would be achieved.

He, however, asked the BISP to ensure that quality education was imparted.

The BISP Chairperson and Minister of State Marvi Memon lauded the vision of the PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and said that the programme had gradually enhanced scope from Rs 40 billion annually to Rs 121 billion and would further expand in the days ahead. She was appreciative of her team for their hard work and making the various initiatives undertaken, a success.

Country head DFID Joanna Reid said that the United Kingdom was partners with Pakistan in its progress and development over the past 70 years and committed to make it prosperous.

She noted the strong and sustainable social network initiated by the BISP, and said that the UK was particularly pleased to be part of a programme, half of whom were female.

Reid was also appreciative of the fact that now more women were registering as voters and would play their key role in strengthening democratic traditions in the country.

The World Bank country head Illango Patchamuthu termed Waseela-e-Taleem as a flagship safety net programme and said that it was among the top rated such programmes in the world.

He stressed continued good governance to ensure the success of the programme, and said that the World Bank would continue to extend support to the BISP.

BISP Secretary Omar Hameed Khan said that the BISP was extending support to several million families and was spending Rs 111 billion per annum.

He said thst the programme was very transparent and ensured that only the eligible received the payment after biometric verification.

Omar Hameed hoped thst the conditional cash transfer would help add more children to the schools.