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Over 800 students to benefit from Rs1bn Sindh government's endowment fund for ed

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Over 800 students to benefit from Rs1bn Sindh government's endowment fund for education

Karachi, Jan 24: The Sindh government's endowment fund for education, which was established with seed money of Rs500 million in 2002-03, has risen to over Rs1 billion in funds, with over 800 students as beneficiaries.

In the light of President Asif Ali Zardari's recent directives, it was decided that the size of the fund be increased to Rs2 billion, and 500 beneficiaries be added every year.

The finance department was thus directed to make an annual contribution of Rs500 million to the fund so that the desired target of Rs2 billion could be reached.

Sindh Chief Secretary Fazlur Rehman said that the fund was created to help talented students who were constrained by their resources, and were thus unable to pursue higher studies at prestigious institutions.

He said scholarships were earlier granted in the fields of medicine, business management and information technology, but it was recently decided that students of engineering subjects be also included in the list.

The number of institutions where the scholarships will be granted is also set to increase, with provincial secretary of education Rizwan Memon saying that at a recent meeting it was decided to include prestigious institutions from across Pakistan in the endowment fund list.

Earlier, the fund was granted at six institutions: the Aga Khan Medical University, Szabist, IBA (Karachi and Sukkur), Sindh University Jamshoro and the College of Business Management.

Now, in addition to all public medical and engineering colleges and universities in Sindh, the scholarships will be provided for education at Quaid-i-Azam University (Islamabad), the National University of Science and Technology (Islamabad), the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering and Technology (NWFP), the Lahore University of Management Sciences and the University of Engineering and Technology (Lahore).

Mr Memon said the criterion for eligibility for the scholarship was a GPA of up to 2.0, and a total household income of up to Rs200,000.

He added that the endowment scholarships are announced through advertisements immediately after admission lists are released by universities.

Mr Memon ruled out the possibility of using government influence to have scholarships granted to certain candidates, saying that the board which was responsible for the selection of students after interviews did not include a representative of the government.

Questions had earlier been raised regarding the transparency of the endowment fund by officials in the finance department, according to sources privy to the functioning of the fund. The Sindh education department was thereafter directed to submit a detailed report on the funds disbursed from the endowment fund so far, along with a list of beneficiaries.

At the same meeting, several ministers expressed their ignorance of the rules and procedures of the fund, and directed the education department to properly circulate the rules and procedures to all relevant educational institutions.

The endowment was created by the government in order to meet the growing demand for highly trained employees in modern industries and financial institutions.

The government also aimed to provide a source of highly skilled and qualified teachers for the various seats of learning by helping qualified students receive an education they would not normally be able to afford. Dawn

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