ISLAMABAD-Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (FE&PT) on Wednesday launched four-year National Endowment Scholarships for Talent (NEST) for nursing profession in the country.

Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, Shafqat Mahmood, launched the first ever scholarship programme for the nursing profession.

A statement issued said that the four-year scholarship programme is initiated with the purpose to increase professional capacity of nursing profession by imparting quality education to the needy and deserving students.

Initially, a total budget of Rs310 million has been earmarked for 1,000 scholarships that would be given in 2020. The scholarship programme aimed at strengthening the honourable profession of nursing through providing scholarships to deserving and talented students in four-year bachelors (GEN) programme and developing the faculty of nursing institutes.

Currently, there are almost 80,000 nurses working in Pakistan, whereas, need for nurses is estimated at 800,000.

There was a critical need for financial assistance for current working professional nurses to upgrade themselves by studying four-year degree programme.

NEST BOD has approved 52 top ranking nursing institutes which are affiliated with HEC recognised universities and registered and approved by PNC and shortlisted by the selection committee comprising upon PNC members and NEST members. The allocation of 1,000 scholarship slots to these 52 institutes has been recommended by the selection committee and approved by BOD NEST.

An equal opportunity for most deserving but talented students is provided to all areas of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, KP, FATA, GB, ICT, and AJK. So, talented students who want to pursue nursing as career but cannot afford to do so can benefit through this programme.

The total intake as per approved seats allocated by PNC for year 2020 for nurses is approximately 5,000.

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So by giving 1,000 scholarships, 20 per cent of students (every one out of five students) can avail scholarship. Usually nursing students belong to very poor families and are from very low income category group.

They want to adopt this profession but as they cannot afford the fee they usually are forced to sign tough agreements with the affiliated hospitals that pay them very less and bond them for five to eight years.