The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has done away with the upper age limit for the girls’ admission to public sector universities and colleges in the province. It has also decided to provide free education and boarding facilities to the physically-challenged students enrolled in the local government educational institutions. From today, girls in the province will not be denied higher education for being overage,” higher education minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani told Dawn on Friday during the inaugural session of the Forum of Zoologists at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa colleges here on Friday. The session was attended by higher education secretary Farah Hamid Khan, additional secretary Khalid Khan, College Teachers Association president Nasrullah Yusufzai, and professors, doctors and principals of colleges. If a girl failed to pursue higher education either for poverty or other reason, she can now get admission in any university and college after passing entry test,” the minister said. An official of the higher education department told Dawn that government universities and colleges in the province had separate age limit for the girls and boys’ admission to classes of graduation and above. He said the age limit varied from 25 years to 27 years. The minister said the government had also decided that education of physically-challenged students would be free in government universities and colleges. He said ramps, special restrooms and other facilities would be provided to physically-challenged students in the buildings of universities and colleges. He said 10 years relaxation in age would be given to the physically-challenged students while getting admission to colleges and universities. The minister said it was necessary to promote higher education and modern research for development. He said unfortunately, the higher education sector had been totally neglected by the successive governments but the current one led by PTI was committed to developing it. Mr Mushtaq said Rs500 million under the Chief Minister Education Endowment Fund and Rs300 million under the Higher Education Endowment Fund had been allocated for two foreign scholarships for PHD programme and 1,456 scholarships for four years BS programme and that the scholarships would be provided to students on merit. Earlier speaking during the function, the minister declared the establishment of the Forum of Zoologists a ‘golden step’ for the promotion of education and research in the province. He said promotion of education was the government’s top priority. “The youths must come forward to bring about a real change. We’ll facilitate them appropriately,” he said. Mr Mushtaq said an office of the research innovation and commercialisation was being established at all public and private universities of the province to ensure socioeconomic development. He said his government was resolving the lecturers’ problems on priority and that 241 adhoc lecturers had been regularised during the last one year. Higher education secretary Farah Hamid and additional secretary Khalid Khan appreciated the establishment of the Forum of Zoologists at local educational institutions and said it would prove a milestone in the promotion of modern research.