ISLAMABAD – Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar on Thursday said that because of the issue of 18.7 million out of school children in the country coupled with high rate of dropouts at the secondary school level, the government was considering extension of Ehsaas’ primary education conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme, Waseela-e-Taleem Digital to the secondary level.
“Ehsaas secondary education CCT will help disadvantaged families to overcome financial barriers to access secondary education. The programme will be structured in line with Ehsaas Stipends policy which allows doling out higher stipend amount for girls as compared to boys. The prime objective is to encourage parents to send their daughters to schools and support them to achieve secondary education,” Dr. Sania Nishtar said.
She said there was a high probability that income losses due to COVID-19 might have caused a substantial increase in dropouts. For the purpose of tackling the issue, a pilot would be rolled out in federally administered areas to serve the unserved area of secondary education. “Further, to expand it nationwide, an integrated mechanism will be devised in coordination with provincial education departments to co-finance the secondary education CCT with provinces to avoid duplications,” she said.
To catalyse action in the right direction, Dr Sania Nishtar said, the design would be finalised in consultation with Ehsaas Education CCT Steering Committee. Following that, it would be taken to the board for necessary approvals and pilot roll out. “Education Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) are an important element of Ehsaas and are included in the Ehsaas strategy as Policy #73 ‘Education CCTs’. Education CCTs not only socially assist vulnerable households but also reduce the number of out of school children. According to Household Income and Expenditure Survey (1990-2018), the enrolment trends in primary and secondary education for both boys and girls indicate that girls are heavily disadvantaged in initial enrolment levels for poorest quintile, and they drop out faster from grades 5-8,” she said.
Dr Sania Nishtar said that under Ehsaas framework, the massively reformed Waseela-e-Taleem Digital programme benefited children of poorest families with conditional cash grants amounting Rs1,500 for boy child and Rs2,000 per quarter for girl child on fulfilment of 70% attendance in primary schooling. “The Rs80 billion programme will bring 5 million deserving primary school children into its fold from across all 154 districts of Pakistan over a 4-year duration. However, the opportunity costs of schooling continue to rise with age and are much higher after 10 years of age. In rural areas declining trend increases after grade 5 and in urban areas dropout rises after grade 10 but with different reasons. It is envisaged that the secondary education CCT, once launched under the umbrella of Ehsaas will reduce disparities in educational opportunities by raising secondary school attendance, enrolment, and the school progression among out of school children particularly girls,” she said.
Ehsaas secondary education CCT to help disadvantaged families to