LAHORE  - Provincial Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan on Tuesday said as many as 3.5 million children will be enrolled in schools in Punjab from August 14 to October 21 under Universal Primary Enrollment Campaign. He said special survey committees would pay visits on monthly basis to check how many new students were studying at schools and how many have dropped out. He said that action would be taken against the headmasters and concerned teachers of such schools where the number of students showed a decrease.

Addressing a press conference at Punjab DGPR, the minister said that Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif would inaugurate Universal Primary Enrollment Campaign at the flag hoisting ceremony to be held on August 14 at 8:30 am at Aiwan-e-Iqbal Lahore.

The minister said that 2.8 million children of four to nine years of age get admission in private and public schools each year but there were 2.2 million such children of this age group who have never enrolled.

He said Punjab government had decided that 0.7 million such children would be enrolled in schools every year who had been deprived of education facility and this backlog would be cleared during next three years. The enrollment campaign will be continued during next two years to ensure that no child is deprived of primary education during the next three years, he said, adding this campaign for the promotion of the education was being started on August 14 as this year Independence Day will be celebrated as the day of freedom from ignorance.

He said that zonal committees comprising teachers, students, social workers, youth groups, boy scouts and girl guides had been formed at district, tehsil, mohallah and street level that would motivate the parents of their respective areas to send their children to schools.

He said that a proposal was also being considered to provide scholarships with the cooperation of philanthropists to such children who were supporting their families.

He said that a monthly stipend of Rs.200 was already being given to each girl child who was studying in backward districts of the province.

Similarly, he said that scholarships were being given on merit to 50 thousand deserving students in Punjab through PEEF while Punjab Education Foundation would provide free education to four million out of school children during next five years.

The minister said action would be taken against such private housing societies where plots had not been allocated for setting up schools. He said that Punjab government had completed survey about the shortage of teachers in government schools and 30 thousand teachers would be recruited by January 2014.

He said that new classrooms would be constructed on priority basis in such schools where the number of children is expected to increase as a result of Universal Primary Enrollment Campaign.

He said that the government had given approval to special funds of seven billion rupees for the constriction of 15 thousand classrooms during next three years and the CM had directed that efforts should be made for increasing this number to 20 thousand new classrooms.

The Minister further said that a sum of eight billion rupees has been allocated in the provincial budget for the provision of missing facilities in government schools of the province.