Ehsaas Programme: PM Imran to award 50,000 undergraduate scholarships

Students come from families whose incomes total less than Rs45,000 and were shortlisted from 119 public universities

Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the launching ceremony of Ehsaas Programme in Islamabad, Pakistan, January 31, 2020. APP/APP70-31/Files

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday would award around 50,000 scholarships to needy undergraduate students, shortlisted beforehand, under Pakistan's biggest-ever scheme launched under the Ehsaas Programme to support a total of 200,000 students over the next four years.

The students — half of whom are young women from low-income groups and 2% are students with special needs — come from families whose incomes total less than Rs45,000 and were shortlisted from 119 HEC-recognised public universities around the country.

The need- and merit-based scholarship covers tuition fee as well as a living stipend. The scheme's objective was to ensure that no eligible student was deprived of higher education due to financial constraints.

The government’s flagship anti-poverty Ehsaas Programme marked a historic shift in scholarship policy by targeting undergraduate education since grants in the past supported Masters- and Doctorate-level programmes.

132,192 applications

The Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) online portal was opened for applications after PM Imran officially launched the Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships. As of the closing date, some 132,192 undergraduate students, of which 49,841 were girls, had applied for 2019-20 scholarships.

Subsequently, the universities’ scholarship award committees made provisional decisions based on the applications and documents before recommending them for ratification by the programme-steering committee.

The provisional decisions were confirmed after a formal ratification as well as a follow-up scrutiny — including verification of income and supporting documents, as well as personal interviews.

The 2019-20 scholarships were set to be renewed automatically until the recipients graduate, provided that they maintain their grade point average (GPA).

'Enriching the Pakistani workforce'

In this regard, PM Imran's Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said: "Pakistan has one of the youngest populations in the world and the government could not afford to waste the demographic dividend that is key to building a strong and sustainable economy.

"By offering these Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships to the deserving best and brightest minds across our country, we are enriching the Pakistani workforce, encouraging diversity across all our professions and investing in the leaders of tomorrow.”

She said the inclusion of young women would help Pakistan tackle gender discrimination in education that negatively impacts the country's health and economic growth.

Ehsaas Scholarships Steering Committee, co-chaired by Dr Nishtar and HEC Chairperson Tariq Banuri, oversees the project. As part of the shared initiative, a joint monitoring and evaluation framework has been set up to ensure that the program runs in a transparent, accountable, and equitable, manner.

New applications will be invited in June 2020 from students who will be applying for admission to universities.