Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in its election manifesto for 2013 promised the public to provide free fee voucher to private schools students who had government schools situated far-flung from their villages.
PTI government’s plan, Iqra Farogh-e-Taleem Education Scheme under article 25-A of the constitution, promised provision of vouchers to parents of out of school children in areas where the government schools are situated at a longer distance.
The project aim was to facilitate and reduce out-of-going school children figures and to help those families who couldn’t afford educational expenses of their children. Therefore, alongside vouchers for fees, KP government promised free books and uniforms for the new enrolling students.
While speaking Truth Tracker, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Education Advisor Ziaul Aman said that the program had kicked off about a year ago and the survey for it was conducted in January 2017.
He said as per the PTI’s promise, the project was launched for those students who were out of the school for more than six months and the government schools in their areas within six kilometers of radius.
“The pilot project was initiated in which more than 14000 students were provided fee vouchers to facilitate their education,” Aman said, adding, Rs500 million has been allocated for the project in budget 2016-17.
The project is currently underway in six districts of the province but now it has been decided to encompass all the districts of KP. He said the voucher included tuition fees, books and uniform of the children aged 5-16 years while the rest of the expenses is borne by the private schools where they are enrolled.
Furthermore, he said under the scheme Rs500 are provided to children of primary, Rs600 to middle and Rs800 to the students of higher grade schools.
“Test are also taken from the beneficiaries to measure their educational performance after every six months and if the performance of the children were not satisfactory then student are enrolled in another private school,” he said, adding, the program will be continue until reduction in the ratio of out-of-schools children in the province.
To check the claim of the official of the KP education department, Truth Tracker has reached parents who are getting benefits from the project.
While speaking to Truth Tracker, the father of the child in belongs to Peshawar’s suburbs who wished not to be named said that one of his child is getting the voucher from the government, which is helping him to continue his child education.
He said since the primary school is far away from his village so he has admitted his son in a private school. “The fees voucher is given to the private schools by the government on quarterly basis.”
Moreover, he said the project should also be continued in the next government after PTI since it’s very supportive towards the families who cannot bear the expenses of private schools fees and don’t have government schools near their villages.
Education rights activists are optimistic about the scheme but they believe the program need to be sustained and extended to all districts of KP.
Mohammad Rafique, a social activist based in Peshawar told Truth Tracker that a large percentage of children are out of schools across the country owing to several reasons. He said one of the main reasons is the unavailability of schools in the proximity of their residential areas, which leads the families not to permit their children to go schools in far flung areas particularly the females.
“The scheme is very beneficial for the children particularly the females in conservative areas where they [families] often restrict them to go to schools away from their villages.”
Keeping in view the comments of officials, independent experts and parent who benefit from the scheme, the Truth Tracker rules that the promise of providing free fee vouchers to the students has been fulfilled by PTI.