Lahore - The Punjab government will train 3,162 Baloch students and apprentices to make them educated and skillful with a cost of Rs 495 million as a goodwill gesture to the smaller province.

The purpose of the move is to strengthen the Federation and promote bonds of brotherhood among people of the provinces.

Last year, the Punjab government had also announced to hire 536 graduates from the quake-affected Awaran district of Balochistan.

Official sources said the Punjab government wanted to bridge inter-provincial distances by developing ties in different sectors like education, health, agriculture, higher education, special education, technical education & vocational training authority (TEVTA) and PVTC (Punjab Vocational Training Council).

Talking about details, the sources said that 1,000 young students will be given vocational training at PVTC with a total cost of Rs 168 million while 700 apprentices would be trained in education sector with 100 per cent funding at five divisional public and Daanish schools. The total cost on this proposed initiative would be Rs 138m. In heath sector, 118 students will be funded Rs 36.6m by the Punjab government for their training at medical institutions. Similarly, Rs 54 million will be spent on 225 students in agricultural universities of the country. As many as 480 scholars will be trained in higher education with a total cost of Rs 16 m. The talented students will get PEEF scholarships. In special education department, out of 22 students 12 will be raised as master trainers. Six students will be trained for one year, two for two years and two students will be trained for 15 months.

In technical education sector, 477 apprentices will be trained in Tevta with a total cost of Rs 50 million. Training of 437 skilled workers and 40 teachers will be carried out in the technical authority.

A senior officer of the Punjab government, talking about the move, said the political elite wanted to root out such menaces and promote understanding by dismissing misgivings among the masses. He said without addressing real issues of the people the distances could never be reduced. He said the need was to end differences by uniting people of all federating units especially the backward provinces and the exchange of students and internees could best serve the purpose.

The officer further said that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, time and again, had announced job opportunities and internships for the graduates of the earthquake-hit areas.

“The Punjab province, materialising its claim of big brother, has a long history of supporting the people of Sindh, Balochistan, KP and AJ&K in times of distress, disasters and epidemics and has been willing and prepared to provide opportunities to strengthen the Federation,” the officer held.

He said this step was in addition to the HEC-reserved seats in engineering, medical and general disciplines at different institutes including UET Lahore, UET Taxila, medical colleges and Punjab University Lahore. He added that greatest university of the country had offered dozens of Baloch students free education up to PhD with free hostels facilities, besides stipend of Rs 3,000 or more per month.

The admission of Baloch students in all 74 teaching departments of the varsity and other disciplines every year was strengthening the national cohesion, promoting bonds of brotherhood, ending sense of deprivation and affording a chance to them to study in high standard educational institutions. The CM’s helicopter was also used in the earthquake area of Awaran frequently, the officer said.

The officer highlighted the importance of the current move of Punjab government said it would lessen the alleged injustices meted out to smaller provinces. The students would be ambassadors for harmony and unity among the units and would help restore confidence of smaller provinces in the Federation and remove reservations against the bigger province.