Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced to sponsor underprivileged and disadvantaged women in Pakistan to fulfil their education endeavours. Inspired by education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, this £400,000 funding announcement by Sturgeon will now allow disadvantaged women to avail scholarships for secondary, undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. Previously, the Scottish Government offered a special master’s scholarship to women who hailed from low socioeconomic backgrounds, while a special scholarship programme for underprivileged and minority children was also offered.

According to a Scottish Government report which published last year, almost 55 percent girls in Pakistan were out of school. Moreover, two in three girls belonging to the disadvantaged classes were unable to attend schools due to numerous factors such as lack of facilities, shortage of teachers and discrimination.

The first minister announced these lucrative scholarships at the annual dinner organized by Social Bite, on Wednesday. The youngest Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai was also invited as a guest speaker at the event.

Addressing the gathering, Sturgeon said: “Tackling poverty and inequality is one of the central aims of the Scottish Government, whether that is at home or abroad. Girls still face the largest barriers to accessing secondary and undergraduate education. In 2013, we set up a master’s scholarship scheme for Pakistani women which was inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s courageous campaign for better education for girls”.

She said the “Scotland-Pakistan Scholarship for Young Women and Girls” will allow disadvantaged  women in Pakistan to attain their educational goals.

The previous scholarship by the Scottish government facilitated over 500 women between 2013 and 2016. Almost, 5600 women applied for scholarships in the academic year 2017-18, out of which 173 talented women were successful in securing awards. Moreover, the children scholarship programme facilitated over 4000 brimming disadvantaged children in the country for the completion of their schooling, out of which 2000 children were awarded scholarships in 2017-18 alone.

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