LAHORE - British Ambassador John Casson met Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, yesterday and shared views on the matters of mutual interest and cooperation in education sector.

The British ambassador lauded comprehensive reforms and implementation of effective programme for the promotion of education in Punjab. He said that Punjab has displayed outstanding performance in education sector and has achieved the targets.

He said Punjab government has set commendable example by introducing comprehensive reforms and taking significant measures in education sector. British Ambassador said that he wants to implement successful educational model of Punjab in Egypt and needs cooperation in this regard.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that Britain and Pakistan are strong partners in the journey to progress and prosperity. He said that cooperation of DFID in education, health and skill-development sectors is appreciable. He said that Punjab government has achieved various milestones in education, health and skill development sectors.

Shehbaz Sharif said that record funds have been allocated in the budget of new fiscal year for improving education, health, skill development and other social sectors. Reforms programme continuing in education sector is effectively monitored and a system has been evolved with the help of information technology for check and balance in reforms programme, he added.

The chief minister said that special resources have been provided for the construction of 36000 new classrooms in schools. He said that more than 19000 additional classrooms in schools and missing facilities will be made available in all schools at a cost of Rs. 28 billion during next financial year.

Shehbaz Sharif said that British department DFID is also extending cooperation in this programme of Punjab government. He said that 11000 out of 36000 new classrooms will be constructed with the cooperation of DFID in next two years which will cost Rs.17.60 billion. Referring to steps taken for the promotion of education in south Punjab, the Chief Minister said that amount of monthly stipend for girl students from class six to ten has been increased from Rs.200 to Rs.1000 in 11 districts of South Punjab and about four lakh girl students of these backward districts will benefit from this programme.

Shehbaz Sharif said that education is the only key for a nation to move ahead and youth of the province are being empowered through education. He said that more than 50,000 children working at brick kilns throughout out the province have been enrolled after ridding child labour and now the scope of this campaign will be expanded to workshops, petrol pumps and small hotels.

He said that lakhs of persons have been made skilled through Punjab Skill Development Company and this programme started from South Punjab is being expanded to other districts under a phased programme. He said that 20 lakh youth will be made skilled in accordance with the needs of market within next two years. He said that Punjab government has recruited teachers through hundred percent merit.

He said that educational expenditure of 20 lakh girls and boys are being borne under voucher scheme of Punjab Education Foundation. He said that the volume of Punjab Educational Endowment Fund has reached 16 billion rupees and four billion rupees more are being given during next financial year which will increase the volume of this fund to Rs. 20 billion.

Shehbaz Sharif said that resource less but talented girl and boy students are getting higher education through the income of this fund and the number of such students has reached 1.5 lakh who are studying through educational funds.

The chief minister told that girl and boy students of resource less families are studying in 14 Daanish schools set up in backward areas of South Punjab. He said that students are given education through modern method in these schools. He said that four more Daanish schools will be established in different districts of South Punjab during next financial year.

He said that students are educated through smart boards in Daanish schools and the children studying in these schools are becoming custodian to peace. He said that the goal of progress and prosperity of the country will be achieved through education.

Representative of British Department for International Development (DFID) in Punjab, Ben French, Provincial Minister for Schools Education Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, Chairman Punjab Education Foundation MPA Engineer Qamar ul Islam Raja, Special Secretary Schools Education besides concerned officials were also present on the occasion. Currently, Ambassador John Casson is serving as British Ambassador to Egypt.

Meanwhile, Shehbaz Sharif congratulated Chinese President Xi Jinping on his 63rd birth anniversary. He extended good wishes to Chinese President and prayed for his health and long life. Shehbaz Sharif said that President Xi Jinping has made China a strong economy of the world in a short period due to his vision.

Separately, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Harmony Riaz Hussain Pirzada met Shehbaz Sharif. Pirzada congratulated Shehbaz Sharif on the recovery of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after operation and also for presenting the best and balanced budget for the people of the province.