Ehsaas Programmes

As the coronavirus pandemic lowers the average income and purchasing power of the citizens, it is becoming imperative for the government to elevate its social welfare programmes. This is in line with the government’s expansion of the Ehsaas schemes for education.

One such scheme is the Ehsaas Secondary Education Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, which Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar announced has recently been approved. The Ehsaas programme included a strategy to provide children of underprivileged households conditional cash grants of Rs3,000 per quarter for the girl child and Rs2,500 for the boy child on the fulfilment of 70 percent attendance in school. The CCT programme builds upon that to further incentives for higher attendance of female students.

Such programmes are highly necessary. As every other sphere of the economy has seen crisis because of the pandemic, so has education. Already parents in Pakistan have been reluctant to invest in education—as of 2019, secondary school enrolment in Pakistan was reported at 43.82 percent. This rate has in all likelihood sharply decreased because of the pandemic—lockdowns and a fall in income and savings of people have weighed heavily on school attendance. As with all things, these factors impact the already disadvantaged—girls’ school enrolment was already much lower than boys’. Affirmative action to incentivise parents of female children to send them to school is a good way to bridge that gap.

Despite severe hurdles brought on by the coronavirus, the education sector seems to be going all out in its effort to provide access to quality education for the masses. Apart from these ongoing Ehsaas programmes, over 27,512 primary and secondary institutions are going to be upgraded in Punjab. These developments are an excellent initiative—what the government must work on is ensuring that a system of checks and balances must be in place to determine whether these social welfare schemes are being carried out effectively, and are bringing about social reform.

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