LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has stressed the need for removing disparity between the rich and the poor for carving out a respectable place for Pakistan in the comity of the nations. He said while all out facilities were available to the elite classes, millions of poor people were deprived of food, health, education and other basic necessities. The chief minister said this while addressing a function in connection with Parents Day at Cadet College, Hassanabdal, on Tuesday. Provincial Minister for Education, Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, Members National Assembly, Kh Muhammad Asif, Sheikh Aftab, Chairman Executive Committee of Board of Governors of the College, Lt Gen Shujaat Zamir Dar, College Principal Muhammad Asif Malik, elected representatives, teachers, parents, students as well as divisional and district administrative officers were present on the occasion. He said elimination of poverty and ignorance and provision of quality education to the youth was essential for achieving the goal of progress and prosperity of the country. He said keeping in view this fact, Punjab government was giving top priority to the uplift of education sector and revolutionary measures have been taken for this purpose. He said setting up of IT labs, promotion of vocational education, training of teachers on modern lines, recruitment of educators purely on merit and establishment of Punjab Education Endowment Fund and similar projects will help polish the talents of students and leave a positive impact on education sector. The chief minister said in order to make Pakistan a successful and progress state, there was a need for learning from past mistakes and keeping an eye on future while working with a spirit of honesty and dedication. He said there were such prestigious educational institutions as Cadet College Hassanabdal, Aitchison College, LUMS, NUST and FAST in Pakistan but they were not enough and there was a need to do a lot more in education sector. Referring to the steps taken by the government for the development of education sector, the chief minister said 37,000 Educators have been recruited in the province purely on merit, first time in the history of the country, while the project of setting up computer labs in 4286 schools has been completed at a cost of Rs 5 billion in a record period of 110 days which would enable the students of such backward tehsils of the province as Hasilpur, Chishtian, Chakwal and other remote areas of the province to gain latest information and knowledge through international newspapers and books. He said government had awarded cash prizes of rupees four, three and two lakh to the students obtaining first, second and third positions in matriculation examination respectively. Similarly, he said, 20 brilliant students who bagged top position in different examination were sent on a study tour of leading universities of Britain and Germany while second position-holders have been sent to Iran. He said there were around 3.5 lakh teachers in Punjab but it was unfortunate that most of them were not properly trained and qualified to meet the demands of the modern age. He said literacy rate in Pakistan was even lower than such neighbouring countries as India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He said the poor had no concern with debates on the decisions of judiciary or the routine activities of rulers and their sole interest was in the availability of education, health and other basic facilities for their children. He said government was paying special attention to the training of teachers and they should also utilise all their energies for the education and training of students. He said educational institutions should induct the most competent and dedicated teachers in their academic staff. He said Pakistan could achieve a dignified status in the international community if standard of education was improved and the new generation was equipped with the latest knowledge. He said our performance during the last 63 years had not been satisfactory and a dictator pushed the country to the brink of disaster during the last ten years and set aside national interests only to prolong his rule. The chief minister announced to increase the annual grant provided by Punjab Government to Cadet College Hassanabdal from Rs 20 millions to Rs 40 millions while Rs 100 million will be provided in the next three years for the repair of the old buildings and hostels of the college and provision of better facilities. The chief minister stressed upon Executive Committee of the Board of Governors of Cadet College Hassanabdal to induct highly competent teachers in its academic staff and assured that Punjab Government would provide necessary funds for its salaries. He also awarded cash prizes to the students obtaining top position in curricular and co-curricular activities and congratulated College Principal, teaches, parents and students on their success.