The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has increased the monthly educational stipend awarded for girls from Rs200 to Rs500, besides expanding the stipend programme to all districts of the province.
Aimed at promoting the education of girls at the secondary level, the stipend programme had been introduced in the province in 2006, but was later halted for various reasons. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government then restarted the programme in 2013-14.
The K-P government had launched the programme in seven districts, with Rs200 per month as stipend amount. However, now the programme covers all districts of the province and the amount has been increased to Rs500 per month.
During the last two years, however, both parents and students have been complaining that many schools are not releasing the payments to students.
A high school teacher in Mardan told The Express Tribune that even though “the government releases the stipend amount to schools, many school heads do not disburse the stipend to the students”.
To avoid such corruption, the K-P Elementary and Secondary Education Department (ESED) has established a management information system, a complaint registration system and an anti-corruption cell. Besides, a helpline number has also been distributed in all schools for the students to register any complaints with the department directly.
The Express Tribune has documents which show the amount allocated for the monthly stipend to be a staggering Rs1.72 billion. This amount is solely to be used for the education of females in the province and to ensure that they stay in school past secondary school levels.
The documents also show that the students studying through grade six to 10 are receiving Rs2,400 per year in high enrolment districts, while those in the low enrolment areas are receiving Rs1,800 per year.
According to the documents, the girls studying in secondary government schools in Torghar and Kohistan have been allocated Rs18,000 per year.
ESED Adviser Zunsh Abbasi says the government wants to ensure that female students stay in school despite financial hardships, adding that this initiative will also increase the number of enrolments in government schools across the province.
She has appealed to all female students to not only enrol and use this stipend for their education but also fearlessly register complaints when they do not receive the allocated amount.