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October 6, 2015

Transformation the PEEF way


October 6, 2015

Is this transformation or enlightened revolution? Whatever it is, it means meteoric change on the canvas of education with no more despair and despondency in the lives of nan-bais (chapati and nan-bakers), coachmen, coolies, peasants, drivers, bus conductors, barbers and factory workers who sweat their blood to educate their children but most often fail to meet this noble target, given their haplessness.
The enlightened revolution that I’m referring to is all about the saintly services rendered by Punjab Education Endowment Fund (PEEF) under the vision of Dr Amjad Saqib which, combined with the passion of Punjab Chief Minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, has elevated the status of the downtrodden especially those depressed individuals and segments who had lost all hope to survive, let alone thrive or manage higher education for their children.
Of course, the driving spirit behind this Fund is none other than Dr Amjad Saqib, the head of Akhuwat Foundation but this spirit has been very well nurtured by the chief of Punjab who has recognised the sincerity of purpose and selfless service being rendered by Saqib. Akhuwat Foundation, as everyone in the country knows well, provides small interest-free loans to the needy persons, both men and women and helps them stand on their feet and lead independent lives with self-esteem. This experiment has worked well rather it has worked wonders and people in the know of things opine that the Akhuwat project is going even far better than Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. The explanation is that wondrous micro finance bank, Grameen, has started contemplating taking mark-up on small loans.
Billions of rupees have been given under the PEEF scheme and as confirmed lately, Rs5. 6 billion have already been given to deserving, talented students for studies in the most prestigious institutions of the country including those universities where hitherto only the sons and daughters of the affluent people could get education on the basis of

their riches (by paying heavy fees). PEEF has now taken up this responsibility for those high achievers in different faculties and disciplines whose parents can’t afford to pay tuition and other fees, given the high cost of higher education in private sector universities of the country. Knowledgeable circles say that higher education is not easily affordable even in some other countries of the world.
The nation feels proud of PEEF and the driving spirit behind it, Dr Amjad Saqib, whom the Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif calls a saint of the contemporary times. Of course, Dr Amjad Saqib is the man who possesses saintly qualities, given his humility, love for the humanity and the impoverished classes and given his passion to educate the deserving students on a large scale up to the highest level. This is indeed a big service to humanity as much as it is a big service to education.
Not much time has passed, Dr Amjad Saqib and I were both invited as Guests of Honour by Lahore police and its chief, CCPO Capt (R) Amin Wains. The noble thoughts of Dr Amjad Saqib vis-à-vis education turned up to be highly inspiring and invaluable.
In a country where institutions like PEEF are working incessantly to transform and enlighten the society, the country’s future can be vividly seen to be marvelous in the times to come.
According to PEEF literature available, following the grant of a huge amount by CM Shahbaz Sharif in line with his impassioned ‘Purrha Likah Punjab’ (Educated, Enlightened Punjab), the total fund capacity of PEEF has gone to Rs14 billion out of which Rs5.6 billion have been given to 100,000 students belonging to different provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan (the CM has in practice expanded the programme to whole of Pakistan).
One is certainly amazed to know about the high achievements of PEEF. This excellent performance in the education sector can be rightly called transformation as well as an end to class-consciousness (to some extent, class hatred) by way of which the highly talented students hailing from the impoverished families i.e. the ones living below the poverty line, had been deprived in the past from taking up higher education.
Education with honour, education with comfort and peace of mind seems to be the mission of PEEF.
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