LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF) was the biggest educational fund in the history of the region, helping more than 0.15 million resourceless but talented students acquire modern education. He said that the target of provision of 0.2 million scholarships would soon be achieved, adding that the volume of the fund, set up in 2008 with a sum of one billion rupees, would reach Rs 20 billion this year.During a meeting with PEEF scholars on Wednesday, he said that talented and hardworking students showing good performance in educational field were pride of the nation. “It is a fact that the dream of progress and prosperity cannot be realized without equipping the new generation with modern knowledge. While children of the elite can get admission in prestigious educational institutions anywhere in the world, brilliant children of poor families who have a thirst for knowledge should also have opportunities of quality education,” he CM assured. He said that the Punjab government, by setting up a unique educational endowment fund in the history of the country, was helping poor but brilliant students get modern education and a number of talented children of labourers and low-income families were studying at prestigious educational institutions like Oxford, Cambridge and LUMS with the help of this fund.He said that PEEF has become a symbol of national solidarity as students of Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and other provinces were also being given scholarships. Shahbaz said that he was pleased to meet PEEF scholars who have shown outstanding performance in educational field, adding that scholarships were being given to students purely on merit, as it was the only way towards progress and prosperity. He said that merit has been promoted in every sector for progress and development of the country. He said that a strict merit policy has been adopted in the provision of scholarships from PEEF and no one could dare to indulge in bribery.He said that transparency in the affairs of PEEF was proved by the fact that talented students did not had to contact the fund for scholarships, but the fund contacted low-income students showing outstanding performance in educational field and sent letters to their home addresses, which was surprising in a society where merit has been flouted for decades.He said that students acquiring education with the help of PEEF scholarships were serving as doctors, engineers, teachers and bankers and proving their talent in different sectors of life. He said that young generation was talented and capable and would change the destiny of the nation and Pakistan would be able to achieve a dignified status at international level.The chief minister highly appreciated the performance of vice chairman, board of directors and the entire team of PEEF and prayed that the programme may continue and benefit maximum number of brilliant students.Provincial Higher Education Minister Begum Zakiya Shahnawaz, MPA Bushra Anjum Butt, PEEF Vice Chairman Dr Amjad Saqib and PEEF board of directors were also present on the occasion.Earlier, the chief minister presided over the 21st meeting of PEEF board of directors and discussed various matters, including performance of endowment fund and provision of scholarships to talented students on merit.