Lahore (Muhammad Yasir)
The Punjab government will extend its fullest support to a Sindh-based leading education sector non-profit whenever it decides to extend its schooling service to Punjab for educating children from the deprived and rural areas. The solemn assurance to this effect was extended by Punjab Health Minister, Prof Dr Javed Akram, as he spoke as the chief guest at a ceremony organised by the non-profit Green Crescent Trust (GCT) on the eve of International Day of Education. On the occasion, leading Lahore-based businessmen and industrialists lent support to the GCT’s charitable drive to enrol a total of 100,000 out-of-school children in Sindh by constructing 250 schools in backward and remote areas of the province. The Punjab Health Minister appreciated that the GCT in its 29 years-long journey had established 166 charitable schools in underprivileged areas of Sindh having an enrolment of 31,799 plus children from deprived families. He said that a leading non-profit by establishing such a vast network of charitable schools had genuinely shared the burden of the state whose solemn constitutional obligation is to provide quality education to each and every child in the country irrespective of his status and location. He praised that the GCT had recently extended the footprint of its charitable work for the first time beyond Sindh by establishing a charitable school in the Winder area of Hub district in Balochistan. He said the concerned charities should actively work to educate children from the underprivileged communities in Balochistan to support efforts to overcome the backwardness of the province. Dr Akram invited the GCT to extend its charitable work in the education sector to Punjab to enrol out-of-school children in the province. “Punjab government is fully available and will provide whatever support the GCT needs to establish its schools in rural and deprived areas of the province whether in the form of land, funding, or availability of trained teachers,” he said. He assured the audience that the Punjab School Education Department would work shoulder-to-shoulder with sincere charities and non-governmental organisations to educate children in remote and under-developed parts of the province. The Punjab Health Minister mentioned that educating a child from an underprivileged community meant providing support for ending the vicious circle of poverty for his entire family. Dr Shehla Javed Akram, the wife of the Punjab Health Minister who herself excelled as a woman entrepreneur, urged the charities in the education sector to strive hard to educate girls from deserving families to promote the cause of woman empowerment. Attending the fundraiser as a guest of honour, Balochistan Health Minister, Dr Amir Muhammad Jogezai, said the concerned NGOs and charities could play a vital role in providing quality education, health services, water supply, and other basic necessities of life to people in remote areas in Balochistan. He also greeted the GCT for establishing its first charitable school in Balochistan in Winder area. He assured the audience that the Balochistan government would provide the fullest support whenever the GCT and other education sector charities decided to extend the footprint of their charitable work in the province to enrol a greater number of children from destitute families in the province. GCT CEO, Zahid Saeed, expressed gratitude to the business community for extending uninterrupted support to the campaign of his non-profit to enrol out-of-school children in Sindh. He said it was high time that sincere NGOs, provincial governments, and the private sector joined hands and worked together to enrol millions of out-of-school children in the country aged between four and 16. He lamented that despite the expenditure of hundreds of billions of rupees annually the provincial governments couldn’t provide basic academic and infrastructure facilities at its schools. He said the concerned NGOs in the education sector and government by forging partnerships could jointly work to overcome the serious issues of the state-run schooling system.