Lahore : Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that in view of importance of education in progress and development, government has taken revolutionary measures for promotion of quality education and equipping the young generation with the latest knowledge. He said that Punjab Educational Endowment Fund has laid the foundation of a revolution in education sector and opened doors of quality education to resource-less but talented students.
The Chief Minister expressed these views while addressing a function in connection of Punjab Educational Endowment Fund at Islamia University Baghdad ul Jadeed Campus, Bahawalpur, today.
He said that had such an educational fund been set up 70 years ago, no child would have remained deprived of education and crores of youth would have been playing their due role in national development. Similarly, Pakistan would not have to face humiliation at any front nor anyone had asked it to ‘do more’, he added.
Shahbaz Sharif further said that elite of the country have created opportunities of higher education for their children whereas children of the poor are deprived of even basic education. He said that by starting educational programmes like Punjab Educational Endowment Fund, provincial government has taken a step toward minimizing the gulf between the rich and the poor. He said that this fund of 17 billion rupees for two lakh students is a safe investment for a bright future of the country.
The Chief Minister said that he had this idea during his period of exile and PEEF scholarship programme started seven years ago with a sum of two billion rupees has now a volume of 17 billion rupees. He said that if Pakistan is to be made a great country, this fund should be increased to 1700 billion rupees.
Shahbaz Sharif said he had the idea of Punjab Education Endowment Fund during his period of exile in Jeddah when a Saudi driver told him that his children were studying with the financial assistance of Saudi government. He said that three children of the Saudi driver Ahmed were studying at King Abdullah University with the financial help of Saudi government.
Shahbaz Sharif said that his resolve was strengthened when he was told that the girl child of a hairdresser was studying at Cambridge University after getting scholarship on merit. Shahbaz Sharif said that he wondered if Saudi and British government can provide education to talented and hard working students on merit why this could not happen in Pakistan. He said that it is lamentable that the elite pushed the country into poverty and ignorance during last 70 years due to which majority of Pakistani population is facing deprivations, miseries and unemployment. He said that such a system is not acceptable to him.
He said that he is determined to ensure a bright and prosperous future for talented and hard working students of the country and Punjab Educational Endowment Fund is a proof of this fact through which lakhs of students are getting modern education in engineering, computer science, medicines and other sectors. He said that he had the idea of higher education for the children of poor families during his stay in Jeddah with his family. Then, he said, he fell ill but with the grace of Allah and prayers of his parents, he got a new life in 2003 and he went to London.
Shahbaz Sharif said that dictator Musharraf was in power in Pakistan at that time, who though raised the slogan of Pakistan First but pocketed billions of rupees. He said that when accounts of dictator Musharraf were exposed, he declared that this money had been given to him by the king. He said that what happened in Pakistan during the tenure of Gen. Musharraf is an open secret.
Shahbaz Sharif said that social welfare system in Britain is based on Islamic values and teachings and is an example with regard to collective social and economic justice. However, he said, Islamic teachings were ignored in Pakistan due to which an Islamic welfare state could not be established and the gulf between the rich and poor has widened after 70 years. He said that elimination of economic and social disparity is essential for making Pakistan a great country.
He said that dream of Quaid and Iqbal cannot be translated into reality unless the same educational, health and other facilities are available to the children of the poor as are being enjoyed by the children of the elite.
The Chief Minister said that had Punjab Educational Endowment Fund been established 70 years ago, no child would have remained deprived of education nor Pakistan faced humiliation or asked to ‘do more’. He said that though the elite changed their destiny but no attention was paid to the fate of the nation. Shehbaz Sharif said that two lakh children will be benefitting from scholarships of Punjab Educational Endowment Fund by the end current year and the time will come when the volume of this fund will increase beyond 1700 billion rupees.
He said that there is a need to invest in education, research and technology sectors to change the course of history and destiny of the nation. He said that Pakistan will emerge as a strong, dignified and independent nation in the world only when youth gain modern education and knowledge.
The Chief Minister said that Punjab government has started solar projects in the desert of Bahawalpur and 400 megawatt power is being added to national grid. He said that these projects could have been started earlier but no one paid attention and criminal negligence was shown toward this sector. He said that darkness will be eliminated from the country by the end of 2017. He said that it is time to learn from the past and change the fate of the nation.
The Chief Minister embraced Muhammad Ramazan, father of Nazir Ahmed who had won PEEF scholarship and said that he was pleased to meet Ramazan Baildar. Similarly, he welcomed the mother of a student Asifa Qamar by rising from his seat.
Earlier chairman PEEF Dr. Amjad Saqib expressed his views about the importance of PEEF scholarship programme started seven years ago and highlighted its role in educational development. Minister for State on Education & Interior Affairs Baligh ur Rehman, Provincial Minister for Cooperatives Malik Muhammad Iqbal Channer, Provincial Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, Senator Ch. Saud Majeed, Ali Hassan Gillani MNA, Begum Parveen Masood Bhatti MNA, Secretary Information Pakistan Muslim League-N Punjab Sami Ullah Chaudhry, Vice Chairman Punjab Educational Endowment Fund Dr. Amjad Saqib, Fauzia Ayub Qureshi MPA, Vice Chancellor Islamia University, Commissioner Bahawalpur Division, representatives of media and civil society, boy and girl students, PEEF scholars, teachers and a large number of parents attended the ceremony.