OUR STAFF REPORTER LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the new generation is a precious asset and guarantee of bright future. He hoped that it would change the destiny of the nation and put it on the road to progress and prosperity through hard work and its abilities and transform the country in accordance with the ideals of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal in a real sense. He was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the first ever Literary Festival for Children in the history of the country at Children Library Complex on Friday. Wife of American Ambassador in Pakistan Dr Marilin Wyatt, Oxford University Press Managing Director Ameena Syed, Idara Taleem-o-Agahi Director Bela Jamil, Secretary Education and a large number of teachers and students were also present on the occasion. Addressing the function, Shahbaz Sharif said all resources would be provided for equipping the new generation with modern knowledge. He said that revolutionary initiatives like setting up Daanish Schools for the poor in backward areas, Punjab Educational Endowment Fund, IT Labs and holding of speech and essay writing competitions were unprecedented and maximum resources would also be spent for the bright future of the youth in future. He said literary festival for the children had been held for the first time in the countrys history and it would help promote the habit of study and book reading among the children. He said that the institutions working for the protection of book, its development and promotion are, in fact, serving the society in real sense which was praiseworthy. He said the participation of children in literary festival from Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and all over Punjab was a great example of national unity. He said our young generation was talented which had the ability to restore the lost image of the motherland in international community and make it a greater country. He said that history was witness to this fact that those nations which made hardworking, honesty and sincerity their motto, achieved high status. He hoped that Pakistani youth would also develop the country with the same spirit. The CM said that Punjab government was implementing a comprehensive strategy for improvement of education sector, polishing the abilities of the male and female students and encouraging them. He said that more than 30 thousand talented students had been benefited from Punjab Educational Endowment Fund so far. He said that due to this revolutionary step, the dream of higher education of hardworking and talented students who could not continue their education due to financial constraints had materialized. He said that modern facilities of education had been available to the elite and middle class during the last 64 years but the marginalized segment of the society remained deprived. He said that poor had equal rights over the resources of the country and they launched the project of Daanish schools equipped with latest educational facilities in backward areas for this purpose. He said that orphan, poor and hapless children were getting education from these schools. He said that not only poverty and ignorance would be eliminated through setting up of Daanish schools in these areas but it would also enhance the dignity and respect of the students. He said that the world had become a global village and the development could not be made without information technology, He said that Punjab government had taken an important step for the promotion of IT by setting up more than four thousand IT labs from Attock to Rahimyar Khan which are yielding far reaching results. He said that essay and speech competition had been organizing for polishing the mental abilities of the students for the last three years under which prizes of Rs.200 million were being given to those showing best performance every year. American Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameroon Munters wife Dr Marilyn Wyatt, in her address laid stress on the importance of the literature. She also discussed the various US initiatives for the advancement of literacy in Pakistan. She briefed the audience about IQRA programme which aims to teach around 0.7 million students in Sindh. We are also arranging book fares to promote the book reading culture among the children, she added. While talking about her own keen interest towards literature, Dr. Marilyn Wyatt said the she has been reading since the age of seven and said that she had always admired the detective novels. She said that the countries with better literacy rate always have a better chance to progress. She said that since her children were not with her, its such a treat to see a large number of children here. Dr Wyatt, reading from the American classic Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, remarked on the power of books to inspire. She told that the US mission provided a $10,000 grant to support the two-day festival. Managing Director of Oxford University Press Amina Syed said that the efforts being made by the Punjab Chief Minister for the improvement of education sector were commendable and his participation in literary festival was a proof of interest in education sector and love and affection with the children. She said that book was such a best friend due to which one could not feel loneliness.