ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan will give away need-based Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships to the first batch of deserving bright students today. 

According to a statement issued by the PM Media Office on Sunday, this will be the biggest ever scholarship scheme of the country launched under the Ehsaas Program to support in total 200,000 students in next four years.

Among the beneficiaries of this scholarship scheme, half are the girls hailing from the low-income groups and 2 per cent scholarships have been allocated for the students with special needs.

During the year 2019-20, around 50,000 students, shortlisted from all the public sector universities across the country, would be awarded scholarships under the government’s flagship anti-poverty Ehsaas Program.

The objective of Ehsaas scholarships program is to ensure that no eligible student is deprived of higher education because of financial need.

This program manifested a historic shift in the government’s scholarship policy as in the past, scholarships used to support MS or PhD level programs, but this project has targeted the undergraduate education. The need and merit-based scholarship covers tuition fee as well as a living stipend.

All students with family income of less than Rs 45,000 and studying in undergraduate programmes across 119 public sector universities recognized by HEC were eligible to apply.

Following the official launch of Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships by the prime minister, the Higher Education Commission’s online portal had been opened for applications. By the closing date, as many as 132,192 undergraduate students (49,841 girls) applied for scholarships for the academic year 2019-20 in the first phase of the project.

Subsequently, the universities’ scholarship award committees made provisional decisions based on applications and documents received and recommended them for ratification by the program steering committee.

The provisional decisions were confirmed after formal ratification as well as follow up scrutiny, including income verification, verification of supporting documents, and personal interviews by the scholarship award committee.

The 2019-20 scholarships will be renewed automatically until the date of graduation of the recipients, provided they maintain a high GPA score. New applications will be invited in June 2020 from students who will be applying for admission to universities.

Reflecting on the significance of Ehsaas scholarships program, Prime Minister’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 the country, the government is enriching the Pakistani workforce, encouraging diversity across all professions and investing in the leaders of tomorrow. She said with fifty percent girls’ inclusion in these scholarships, Pakistan would also benefit the measures in this program to tackle gender discrimination in education, which negatively impacts our nation’s health and economic growth.

The project is being overseen by the Ehsaas Scholarships Steering Committee, co-chaired by Dr. Nishtar and Chairman HEC.

As part of this shared initiative, a joint monitoring and evaluation framework has been set up to ensure that the program is running in a transparent, equitable, and accountable manner. The monitoring and evaluation system reports directly to the Ehsaas Scholarship Steering Committee.