Islamabad-National Testing Service (NTS) will sponsor Rs 10 million for the education of underprivileged students of Khyber Agency, an official said on Saturday.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between NTS and Khadim-ul-Khalq Foundation (KKF), a social work organization operating in Khyber Agency.

Under the agreement, 250 scholarships will be awarded to students from grade VII to XII on need based condition.

The allocated amount will cover tuition fee, stipend and other costs. According to Director Education FATA, Hashim Khan Afridi, there were 5994 educational institutes in tribal region, out which 1145 were destroyed after law and order situation worsen there. “635 institutes have been reconstructed while 385 are under construction,” he said.

Director education said that FATA literacy rate is 36 per cent only while in women it is less than 10 per cent.

“Poverty, displacement and ignorance has destroyed the infrastructure of FATA education,” he said. According to him, only 52 per cent students reached to primary level education and 34 to secondary level. He said that with new projects and developments FATA education is improving with fewer resources, so more responsibilities fall on government.

“Government in future, till year 2030 has prepared a plan to maximum out of school children in mainstream,” he said. Earlier, NTS had sponsored amount for the welfare of Mehsud tribe.

President Mehsud Welfare Association (MWA) Rehmat Khan Mehsud said that earlier 589 scholarships were awarded to FATA students through MWA to bring education back in war affected areas.

“Sponsoring education in tribal region can help reducing extremism there,” he said. He said that more efforts are required to promote education in the area comprising 15 million populations. Chairman KKF, Farooq Afridi said that the organisation will initiate the education process in Khyber Agency by acquiring government and private schools.

He also said that the project will continue for two months in the tribal community.

He informed that KKF is local effort established by youth to bring education back in the region. “Education and students are the frontline victims of the region, as in 2009 all public sector institutions were closed there,” he said.

He said that KKF received 1500 applications from agency and shortlisted 250 from the list.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) NTS Dr Sherzada Khan informed The Nation that to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Pakistani people, NTS-Pakistan established a department under the corporate social responsibility initiative.

“Purpose of this measure was to award scholarships to the needy students from the underprivileged background,” he said.

According to him, NTS with its limited resources has already disbursed Rs 125 Million to the deserving students and has invested in higher education sector.