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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Balochistan on Friday where he will get a briefing on the nationwide rollout of Ehsaas’ Taleemi Wazaef for primary school under Ehsaas Waseela-e-Taleem Programme.

This was revealed by Dr Sania Nishtar, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, addressing a press conference here on Thursday.

The PM would join the children and their parents to witness new enrolments of deserving children in Waseela-e-Taleem, she said. Pakistan had been running an Education Conditional Cash Transfer for primary school going children called Waseela-e-Taleem since 2012 in selected districts, she said. “Now, this programme is being expanded nationwide, representing a major quantum change,” Nishtar added.

The stipend given to children had been modified as per Ehsaas’ new stipend policy, she said. “Children of poorest families will now be provided conditional cash grants of Rs 1,500 for boy child and Rs 2,000 per quarter for girl child on attainment of 70 percent attendance in school,” Nishtar said. Overall budget that year was 8 billion, she added.

She said special software applications had been developed which were used by Ehsaas staff to register children and monitor compliance. That, she said had bring an end to reliance on NGOs (non-governmental organisations) resulting in reduction in operational cost from eight percent to three percent.

In the past, the programme encountered a number of challenges including high administrative cost, weak compliance monitoring system, low stipend amount and high error and fraud due to a paper-based approach, she said. Over the last year and a half, a comprehensive and deep-rooted reform was designed and deployed as a result of which far reaching changes had been made in the programme, the SAPM said. “Overall, in the Ehsaas umbrella, there are many enhancements for South Balochistan districts of Washuk, Kharan, Chagai, Mastung, Khuzdar, Lasbela, Awaran, Panjgur, Turbat, Gwadar,” Nishtar said. Two new Panagahs would be opened in two districts, one in Lasbela Industrial Zone and the other in Gwadar Economic Zone by January 31, 2021, she said, adding that two new orphanages would be set up in Kharan and Turbat by December 31, 2020.

In Ehsaas Amdan, two new districts of South Balochistan, Lasbela and Gwadar are being added.

Under Ehsaas interest-free loans programme, four new districts, Gwadar, Panjgur, Awaran and Kech were being added, she said. In Ehsaas Kafaalat, the number of beneficiaries in South Balochistan was projected to increase from currently 38,604 to 62,152 beneficiaries over the next four months, Dr Sania Nishtar said.

Moreover, she said Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme was being introduced in Kharan and Khuzdar. Total 6,625 beneficiaries will be registered under Nashonuma in these two districts and will get specialized nutritious food to prevent stunting in children along with cash stipend (Rs 2000 for girl child and Rs 1,500 for boy child per quarter). Under Ehsaas Undergrad Scholarship programme, around 3,000 scholarships have been awarded to deserving and talented students of Balochistan in the year 2019-20. In Turbat district, 654 undergraduate scholarships have been awarded.

Other than Washuk, Mastung and Kalat, the Ehsaas Survey has been completed. Ehsaas Registration Desks are being set up in every tehsil after the survey to ensure that missed households can come forward and register themselves, she said adding that desks are operational in every tehsil of Turbat and are being set up in the other districts over the next three months.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020