LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister has said his government has attached priority to promotion of education.

“Knowledge is an asset which is not limited to anyone but a collective fundamental right of everybody. That is the reason; Punjab government has made the promotion of education its priority and most comprehensive and composite reforms have been brought in, the CM stated on Thursday.

He said the Punjab government is ever-ready for bettering education sector. Like previous years, he added that the government recommended different steps for the promotion of education in the financial budget, allocating Rs345 billion.

“It is for the first time in the history of province that such a huge sum has been provided for the education sector,”

He said Rs230 billion have been provided for District Education Authorities while girls’ stipends have been enhanced in 16 less-developed areas under Zawar-e-Taleem Programme.

He went on: “A total of 462,000 needy girls are fully benefiting from this programme.  An amount of Rs.6.5 billion has been provided for this programme in the next financial year. It is heartening that this programme has been proved very useful for enhancing as well as maintaining the enrollment ratio in the schools.”

He said thousands of additional classrooms are being constructed in public sector schools under Khadim-e-Punjab School Programme while Rs.6.5 billion will be spent on this programme and a total of 36,000 new classrooms will be constructed in primary schools situated in different districts of the province.

He hoped that these beneficial steps will go a long way in enhancing the enrollment ratio in schools. On the other side, Rs.3.5 billion will be provided for the provision of free textbooks in the government schools, he added. The Chief Minister said that solar panels will be given in electricity-less schools under Khadim-e-Punjab Ujala Programme adding that billions of rupees would be provided for it. He further said that this programme will be initiated from southern Punjab schools where thousands of educational institutions will be lighted through solar energy and lakhs of students will benefit from this wonderful programme.

He said that this programme is a unique pioneering project in the country which would help to improve the educational environment in different schools situated in remote hinterlands by provision of solar panels. The Chief Minister said that the budget of the programme aimed to provide free education in private schools at the expense of the government has been enhanced to Rs.16 billion and added that 2.5 millions deserving students have been enrolled in partner schools of Punjab Education Foundation. Three lakh needy students will also be given the opportunity of free education in PEF partner schools by 2018. This unique initiative has altogether changed the educational scenario in the province, he added.       The Chief Minister further said that a comprehensive policy has been adopted to mould the educational system according to needs and requirements of the modern-day challenges. Different proactive steps including merit-based appointment of teachers, Zawar-e-Taleem Programme, teachers trainings, reimbursement of fees, increase and up-gradation of schools and colleges, enhancement in science and computer labs, promotion of IT through TEVTA, distribution of laptops among brilliant students, study tours of students of different international educational institutions as well holding of literary contests and other useful initiatives are a clear proof of education-friendliness of the Punjab government, concluded the Chief Minister.