By Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan
It is a proven fact that the primary key to the progress of any nation is education. It has also been observed that the nations who took bold initiatives in this regard have brought revolutionary reforms in their society; America, Japan, Germany, France are the few examples.
The Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has strong belief that education is the only way to put the country on the road to progress. Being conscious of this reality the education is the top priority of the government. Khadm-e- Aalla being a visionary leader has taken tremendous steps in the field of education be it the enrolment of the out of school children, training of teachers, recruitment and appointments of school teachers, provision of missing facilities in schools, provision of free textbooks, enrolment of brick kiln laborers children with monthly stipend, smart monitoring, distribution of solar lamps and distribution of laptops among position holders etc.
The journey to improve the standard and quality of education began in 2008 and it would inshallah continue till the achievement of the goals set by the Punjab government. Considering the importance of basic facilities like toilets, clean water and boundary wall, the Punjab government had provided these basic facilities to more than 97% public schools, by 2018 every public school will have basic facilities*.* It was the burden on the parents to buy textbooks for their children for this Punjab government is providing free textbooks to every student in public school. Realizing the importance of information and communication technology the Punjab government has established computer labs in various government schools.
In the past many children were unable to attend the school despite their will to study due to poverty as their parents were unable to bear the expenses of their education. Moreover, the poor children were also the source of income for the marginalized families. As a first step towards provision of education to the poorest of the poor, the Punjab government has not only enrolled 87,000 children to the school of brick kiln laborers but also provided them with free textbooks, bags, stationery, uniforms along with Rs.1000 as monthly stipend and 2000 to parents at the time of admission.
Launching of enrollment campaign in Punjab is yet another initiative of the honorable Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif. As a result of this campaign the number of students increased from 175,000 to 307,000. To facilitate the students to carry out their study and combat the energy crisis, the chief minister Punjab provided solar lamps to 298, 000 students.
To ensure the improvement in access and quality of education the Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif recruited 220,000 teachers on merit base. Upgradation of schools from primary to middle and middle to high schools is another step towards improvement and provision of quality education. In this regard 322 schools have been upgraded.
To increase the literacy rate among girls, honorable Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, allocated Rs. 6 billion and launched Zaver- e- Taleem Programme through which 460,000 girls would receive Rs. 1,000 as monthly stipend. The chief minister has also taken a huge initiative of providing early childhood education to the young children of the province. The government will establish 10,000 state of the art ECE classrooms till 2018, out of which 2,225 classroom are already established.
The journey does not end here, Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has resolved to ensure provision of quality education in all the Government schools of Punjab, in this regard the government will ensure provision of international standard textbooks, 100 percentage enrolment of all the school going aged children, construction of 36,000 new classrooms, provision of 53,000 tablets and 20,000 solar panels till the year, 2018. School Education department Initiatives will help in achieving the Chief Minister Punjab Road Map of achieving 100% enrollment, quality education and retention by 2018.
*The writer is the Minister Schools Education Punjab.