LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has announced to increase the annual fund for Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF) from two billion rupees to four billion rupees.

The scholarships will be given to two hundred thousand talented students during next year, the chief minister said while addressing a gathering at Aiwan-e-Iqbal yesterday. He also announced to give scholarships for Masters students belonging to FATA under PEEF.

“Next year, educational scholarships will be given to another one lakh deserving students for the volume of educational fund has been raised to four billion rupees. Not only Punjab but the under privileged and hardworking students of Sindh, Balochistan, KPK, Azad Kashmir, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan have been included in this splendid programme which is promoting national solidarity.”

Vowing not to rest until every boy and girl of the country becomes educated, Shahbaz Sharif said that a hundred thousand students have been awarded scholarships to the tune of Rs561 million.

“These PEEF scholars are representatives of millions of poor Pakistanis who are not landlords, investors, politicians, judges, generals and senior officials. These great people remained deprived of their rights since creation of Pakistan and the elite had snatched their right but the Punjab government has provided them this right through PEEF. “This is not the reason that they are not intelligent and hardworking but they had no resources for getting education. And we will provide them all the resources.”

Referring to the progress made by China, the CM said China has become the second big military and economic power of the world due to hardworking and continuous struggle. China’s foreign reserves are four trillion dollars whereas it has achieved average 9.9 percent growth rate during last 30 years and have brought 500 million people out of poverty, he added while regretting that although Pakistan is rich in resources and Pakistanis a hardworking nation, the country was lagging behind in development.

“DFID is our partner in PEEF and is aware of our transparency and merit policy and knows that this educational fund is also free from any political interference. The unconditional aid given by our friends is acceptable to us but conditional aid is not acceptable,” Shahbaz Sharif said and added the cooperation of DFID in the programme of provision of scholarship was also unconditional.

Earlier, PEEF vice chairman Dr Amjad Saqib said PEEF has become the biggest fund of the country.

Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran said PEEF has brought a revolution in education and thousands of students are getting education through the fund.

Ms Judith Herbertson of UK Aid, addressing the function, said PEEF is playing very important role in promotion of education and the UK will continue its cooperation with Punjab for promotion of education.

Minister of State Baligh-ur-Rehman, Provincial Minister for Education Rana Mashhood, Punjab Higher Education Chairman Dr Nizamuddin, legislators, columnists, intellectuals, educationists, PEEF scholars and their parents, vice chancellors of different universities, teachers and people belonging to all segments of society attended the function.