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June 15, 2016

No revolutionary steps for promotion of education


June 15, 2016

Budget 2016-17

200 smart schools to be established, 500 information technology laboratories to be set up in schools, cadet college to be established in Swat

PESHAWAR: Like its dismal performance during the last three years in the field of education despite “education emergency” in the province, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government failed to announce any revolutionary steps for the promotion of education in the budget.

 There were clear discrepancies in the budget speech of Finance Minister Muzaffar Said and the “White Paper” regarding allocations for education.

 In his speech, the minister said that Rs111.52 billion had been allocated for education for the year 2016-17, which included Rs102.2 billion for elementary and secondary education and Rs9.5 billion for higher education showing an increase of 15 percent.

 On the other hand, according to the White Paper, the total allocation for education is Rs28.575 billion, including Rs19.077 billion, for elementary and Secondary Education and Rs9.497 billion for higher education showing substantial decrease than the outgoing financial year.

The decrease, as stated in the White Paper, was made mainly due to the shifting of the block allocation from provincial level to district government after the devolution of the Elementary and Secondary Education along with adult education and literacy functions to the local governments as per Local Government Act 2013.

The document says that a major portion of the current education budget amounting to Rs99.857 billion has been devolved to the district entities that include Rs8 billion for completion of missing facilities in the government schools and Rs6 billions for creation of 16,960 posts to improve access to quality education and quality of primary education.

Moreover, only 2.4 percent increase has been made in the budget for higher education, which as shown in the White Paper, is Rs9.497 billion against the Rs8.16 billion of previous financial year.

 The budgetary allocations speak volumes about the provincial government’s claim about its focus on promotion of education.  About development projects in the education sector, the finance minister said that for the financial year 2016-17 an amount of Rs12.45 billion had been allocated for 72 projects in primary and secondary education.

 Interestingly, 64 among these projects are ongoing for which Rs10 billion have been allocation and only eight are new projects for which just Rs2.42 billion have been specified.

 The minister went on to count the schemes in the education sector without mentioning the ongoing and new ones. He said that 160 primary and 100 secondary schools for boys and girls would be established in the province. 

 He said that some 200 smart schools would be established and six cluster hostels for women would be constructed.  Muzaffar Said further said that at least 100 schools would be upgraded from primary to middle, 100 from middle to high and 100 from high to higher secondary schools.

 He said that 500 Information Technology Laboratories would be established in high and higher secondary schools, while examination halls would be constructed in another 100 schools.  The minister said that a cadet college would be set up in Swat, the photos of martyrs of Army Public Schools would be sculpted at the Archives Public Library.

 Repair and reconstruction of the earthquake and flood affected schools would be made, he said without making it clear that the repair and reconstruction work has been in progress since the 2005 earthquake.

He maintained that 50 existing schools would be reconstructed on need basis in the province and 1300 community schools would be set up for imparting basic education to girls.  The minister said that the programme launched by the Awami National Party (ANP) to award scholarships to intelligent students would continue.

 Similarly, Rs4.78 billion has been specified for the 60 total projects in higher education, which include 45 ongoing and only 15 new projects.  The lion’s share of development budget for higher education - Rs3.64 billion - would go to the ongoing projects, while just Rs1.15 billion would be spent on new ones.

The targets set for the next financial year in the field of higher education are establishment of 10 new colleges in the province on need basis, improvement of Jehanzeb College Swat, repair of the colleges affected by earthquake some 11 years ago and construction of academic blocks in the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Swabi.