AHORE – Punjab government is spending Rs five billion on providing facilities to as many as 2,000 schools in the province after it spent total Rs 19 billion during the last four years under the same head.

Talking to a delegation of schoolteachers and students on Thursday, Provincial Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman said the education was continuing to be the top priority of the Punjab government since inception for the fact, the government believed that enhanced literacy rate and quality education especially poor stratum of the society was a panacea of all problems.

He said as a result of the government steps the literacy rate in the province had come up to 62 per cent to the previously 58 per cent. The minister said the Punjab government had taken new initiative in the field of education during four years in the course of which it not only equipped with the schools with missing facilities but also took steps to improve quality of education.

Giving breakup of the money spent, the minister said during the year 2008-09 Rs 2.5 billion, in 2009-10 Rs 4 billion, in 2010-11 Rs 4 billion and in 2011-12 Rs 4 billion were spent to provide basic facilities to 1540, 1712, 1813 and 1684 schools of the province, respectively. He informed that record funds of Rs 5 billion 10 crore have been allocated for the provision of missing facilities in 2000 schools of the province during current fiscal year.

He maintained that in result of education friendly policies of the present government the literacy rate has been raised from 58  per cent to 62 per cent in four years.

The minister said Rs one billion stipend was being distributed in the girl students belonging to remote and deprived areas to encourage female education. He said the government had step-up endowment fund with rupees 10 billion, talented and deserving students are gating scholarship for higher studies.

Mujtaba told the delegation that the Punjab government had provided a sum of Rs 10 billion to promote school education in the marginalised strata and as many 15 lakh deserving students in the 36 districts would benefit during current year. He said a sum of Rs 46 billion would be spent on the school education sector to elevate it according to international standards.

The government had recruited 36,000 schoolteachers and 30,000 subject specialist purely on merit, he concluded.