ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday directed the Ministry of Education and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to prepare a special package for students of flood-affected areas of the country.

According to a statement issued by the federal government, a fee waiver and a special scholarship programme for undergraduate and graduate students will be part of the package. It said for implementation of the package, the education ministry and the HEC have started work.

“On the direction of the prime minister, an education package is being finalised to give various relief to students of affected areas. The relief includes deferment of due fee while special scholarship programme will be started for undergraduate and graduate students.” The statement said the decisions were made in a meeting which was presided over by Federal Education Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain.

It said the meeting also decided to start transitional schools in affected areas.

Fee waiver, scholarship programme on the cards for undergraduate, graduate students

Meanwhile, the education minister tweeted: “Held meeting with chair HEC and decided following for students from flood affected areas: 1. Defer current/due university fee payments. 2. Devise mechanism/possibility for fee waiver. 3. Special scholarship program (UG&Grad) for students from flood affectd areas.”

Following the directive of the government, the HEC has started work to help people and students of the affected areas. HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed held two meetings with vice chancellors of public and private sector universities.

Speaking to Dawn, the HEC chairman said as an immediate solution, all universities had decided to defer fee collection of this semester, including hostel charges of students from affected areas.

“Meanwhile, we are also working to launch scholarship programmes for students of affected areas. A PC-I is being prepared in this regard for the federal government. Similarly, we are exploring options for fee waivers,” he said and added that instant fee waiver was something difficult as universities cant run without fee but “we are working for a workable solution,” he said.

The HEC chairman said various committees of VCs had been formed, which will propose solutions in their areas of expertise to pull the country out of the crisis.

“For example, we have formed a committee of VCs of agriculture universities, who are dedicatedly working on the issue of food security and crops. Similarly, VCs of engineering universities are working to find out solution for construction of new buildings and houses while a committee comprising IT experts is working to collect data of people in affected area,” he said and added that VCs of health universities were working for providing medical facilities to affected people.

“We have formed a number of committees which are performing very good,” the HEC chief, adding these committees will also prepare their reports which will be shared with the government for making effective policies.

Dr Mukhtar said universities in affected areas had also opened their door for the flood victims and the faculty members were playing their role in helping them out.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2022

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