ISLAMABAD   -  Prime Minister Imran Khan will launch the nation-wide rollout of Waseela-e-Taleem Programme for primary school going children from Balochistan today (Friday). 

While unveiling the details about nation-wide rollout of Waseela-e-Taleem, under the Ehsaas umbrella, Special Advisor to Prime Minister, Dr. Sania Nishter told a news conference here Thursday that the PM during his visit to Balochistan would join the children and their parents to witness new enrolments of deserving children in Waseela-e-Taleem. 

Dr Sania said that following a briefing on the recent deep-rooted reforms introduced in Waseela-e-Taleem under the umbrella of Ehsaas, Prime Minister would oversee details of a girl child being entered in the end-to-end digital system. At the site, he would also witness the payment being made to the child’s mother, she added. 

Pakistan had been running an Education Conditional Cash Transfer for primary school going children called Waseela-e-Taleem since 2012 in selected districts. Now, this programme was being expanded nationwide, representing a major quantum change, the SAPM said.   

Dr Sania Nishtar further said that in the past, the programme encountered a number of challenges namely high administrative cost, weak compliance monitoring system, low stipend amount and high error and fraud due to a paper-based approach. Over the last year and a half, a comprehensive and deep-rooted reform was designed and deployed as a result of which far reaching changes had been made in the programme. She said there were four key pillars of reforms:

First, end-to-end digitisation of a number of processes, which were previously managed manually. Besides Apps have been developed which are used by staff to register children and monitor compliance. Secondly, cost-effective changes in institutional infrastructure were made to expand this programme nationwide and reliance on NGOs was eliminated. Because of this, operational cost has been reduced from 8% to 3%. 

Third, the stipend given to children has been modified as per Ehsaas’ new Stipend policy. Children of poorest families will now be provided conditional cash grants of Rs1,500 for boy child and Rs2,000 per quarter for girl child on attainment of 70% attendance in school.

Finally, and the most important, the programme is being expanded to all districts of the country. 

Dr Nishtar said Education Conditional Cash Transfers were an important pillar of Ehsaas and were included in the Ehsaas framework as Policy #73 ‘Education “Conditional Cash Transfers’. Education Conditional Cash Transfers serve the dual purpose of socially assisting vulnerable households and at the same time reduce the number of out of school children, which is an important outcome for Pakistan given that there are 19.1 million out-of-school children in the country. Overall budget this year is Rs8 billion,” she said. 

Dr Sania Nishtar said that overall, under Ehsaas umbrella, there were many enhancements for South Balochistan districts of Washuk, Kharan, Chagai, Mastung, Khuzdar, Lasbela, Awaran, Panjgur, Turbat, Gwadar. “Two new Panagahs will be opened in two districts, one in Lasbela Industrial Zone and the other in Gwadar Economic Zone by January 31, 2021. Two new orphanages will be set up in Kharan and Turbat by December 31, 2020. In Ehsaas Amdan, two new districts of South Balochistan, Lasbela and Gwadar are being added.” Similarly, she said, under Ehsaas interest-free loans programme, four new districts, Gwadar, Panjgur, Awaran and Kech were being added. 

In Ehsaas Kafaalat, the number of beneficiaries in South Balochistan is projected to increase from currently 38,604 to 62,152 beneficiaries over the next four months.  

She said Ehsaas Nashonuma programme was being introduced in Kharan and Khuzdar with registration of 6,625 beneficiaries who would get specialised nutritious food to prevent stunting in children along with cash stipend (Rs2000 for girl child and Rs1,500 for boy child per quarter). “Under Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship programme, around 3,000 scholarships have been awarded to deserving and talented students of Balochistan in the year 2019-20. In Turbat district, 654 undergraduate scholarships have been awarded.”