LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif has given formal approval for the launching of 'Punjab Educational Talent Fellowship Fund' at a cost of Rs2 billion for the financial assistance of deserving talented students in order to pursue higher studies. Male and female students of public sector high schools, madaris, colleges and universities would be able to benefit from the fund. Moreover, a special quota will be reserved for minority students, disabled students and children of low paid government employees. This was decided in a high level meeting presided over by the CM. Anusha Rehman MNA, Shahjehan MPA, former Chief Secretary, AZK Sherdil and Advisor to Chief Minister Haroon Khawja, Vice Chancellors of public sector and private universities as well as senior officers of education department were present. The Chief Minister said that the purpose of setting up of the fund is to provide financial assistance to deserving students showing outstanding performance in the educational field so that they could continue their studies. The Chief Minister gave approval to enhancing the seed money of endowment fund from Rs1 billion to 2 billion rupees and announced that Punjab government will provide Rs500 million for the fund annually. Financial assistance will also be provided from the fund for the preparation of entry test of various prestigious educational institutions. The Chief Minister also granted approval to expanding the scope of the fund to middle and higher classes under which scholarships will be awarded to male and female students of these classes according to available resources. Moreover, accommodation facilities will also be provided to the students at such centers of excellence where hostel facilities are not available. The meeting was informed that the selection of deserving students and their financial needs will be decided by the administration of the concerned educational institutions. The financial assistance will be provided directly to the administration of the center of excellence and it will be responsible for verification of cases of financial assistance, their scrutiny and distribution of funds. It may be mentioned that a balance will be maintained in the number of male and female students in the distribution of funds. The Chief Minister gave approval to allocation of five per cent quota for students of minority community, five per cent for disabled students and five per cent for the children of government employees of grade-1 to 4. The fund will be distributed initially through a trust. The students studying at private educational institutions will be provided assistance through Punjab Education Foundation. The Chief Minister also gave approval to the formation of special committee for investment of the money of Punjab Educational Talent Fellowship Fund, including Senator Ishaq Dar, Advisor to Punjab Government, Chughtai, Sohail Hassan, Consultant FC College, Zafar Iqbal Qureshi and Javed Masood. The Chief Minister directed that wider publicity be given about the fund so that maximum number of brilliant students could benefit.