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Ehsaas to introduce stipends to promote secondary education in July; girls to get higher stipend than boys

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: With the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar in the Chair, the BISP board approved the first of its kind Ehsaas’ secondary education conditional cash transfer (CCT) programme for deserving households to send their children to secondary schools.

The programme will be rolled out nationwide across all districts in July 2021.

The new secondary education CCT has been structured along the lines of Ehsaas Stipends policy that allocates higher stipend amount for girls as compared to boys.

According to a press statement, this policy decision by the BISP board is an extension of Ehsaas’ primary education CCT, Waseela-e-Taleem Digital, expanding it to the secondary level.

The programme will be implemented in close coordination with provincial education departments to avoid double-dipping and duplications. Children of underprivileged households will be provided conditional cash grants of Rs 2,500 for a boy child and Rs 3,000 per quarter for a girl child on fulfilment of 70% attendance in school.

All payments will be biometrically made to mothers of children. Poverty is one of the most persistent barriers to acquiring education. Presently, there are 18.7 million children in the age group 6 to 16 who remain out of school in the country and the fall out of COVID 19 may accentuate that.

The ‘Demographic and Health Survey 2017’ (Kaplan and Meier estimates) indicates that the dropout rate is highest for the poorest two quintiles in secondary education.

Further, the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (1990-2018) featuring enrolment trends for both boys and girls in primary and secondary education reveal that girls are severely disadvantaged in initial enrolment levels for the poorest quantile, and they drop out faster from grades 5-8.

Chairing the board meeting, Dr. Nishtar stated, “Ehsaas aims to lift the poorest families in Pakistan out of poverty and help them achieve their potential by serving the unserved area of secondary education. As part of the ‘Post-COVID-Ehsaas Strategy’, secondary education CCT will enable those at the bottom of the pyramid to overcome financial barriers in accessing secondary education. Ensuring that girl students are not underrepresented in secondary level education, the Ehsaas’ secondary education CCT is fully skewed towards girls, offering higher stipend amounts for them.”

According to estimates, the opportunity costs of schooling tend to rise with age and are much higher after 10 years of age.

Therefore, under the programme, the secondary school-going children from disadvantaged backgrounds in the age group 9 to 18 will now be eligible for the Ehsaas’ stipends.

This programme has been designed under the direct supervision of Ehsaas’ steering committee for education CCTs.

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