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June 4, 2020

Financial squeeze to cause education budget cut

Lahore

June 4, 2020

Islamabad:As the federal government has planned spending cuts in the next fiscal to help the country weather the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020-21 budget is understood to have less allocations for the federal education and professional training ministry than the current financial year’s.

According to the 2020-21 Public Sector Development Programme documents to be unveiled in the National Assembly on June 12, a total of Rs4.511 billion funds will be doled out to the ministry tasked with funding initiatives of formal education in Islamabad and spearheading national and international cooperation and coordination on academic evaluation in the post-devolution regime.

During the last few years, the education ministry has recorded a persistent decline in its budgetary allocations. The funding totalled Rs4.962 billion in 2018-19 but came down to Rs4.797 billion in 2019-20 and will further reduce in the next fiscal with the officials blaming it on the country’s severe financial squeeze coupled with the spending needs caused by COVID-19 emergency.

The documents show that the education ministry has got more funds (Rs2.425 billion) for new projects than the ongoing ones (Rs2.372 billion) in the current fiscal like previous ones. However, the trend is likely to undergo a sea change due to the drastic impact of the coronavirus outbreak on national economy.

As the officials say the government’s focus is on the financing of ongoing projects instead of executing the one ones, the lion’s share of the federal education spending i.e. Rs4.171 billion is for the ongoing projects, while a paltry sum of Rs340 million will be spent on the new ones.

Among major allocations for the ongoing projects is Rs1.1 billion for the establishment of the Directorate General of Religious Education, Rs800 million for the renovation and rehabilitation of physical infrastructure of 200 educational institutions under the Prime Minister’s Education Sector Reforms Programme, Rs254.66 million for the upgradation of National College of Arts and related facilities, Rs225 million for the establishment of Islamabad Model College for Boys, Pakistan Town, Islamabad, Rs200 million each for Islamabad Model College for Boys, G-13/2, Islamabad Model College for Boys, G-15, Islamabad Model College for Girls, G-13/1, and Islamabad Model College for Girls, G-14/4, Rs192.45 million for FG College of Home Economics Management Sciences and Specialised Disciplines, F-11/1, Rs150 million for Islamabad Model College for Boys, Margalla Town, Rs142 million for the award of 1,600 scholarships to students from Indian-occupied Kashmir, Rs100 million for the upgrade of Islamabad’s high schools and Rs86 million for the establishment of the National Curriculum Council Secretariat in Islamabad. As for new initiatives to be executed in the next fiscal, the most funds i.e. Rs150 million will go to the introduction of Matric-Tech pathways for integrating technical and vocational education and training and formal education to be followed by Rs100 million for the upgradation of Islamabad Model College for Girls, Bhara Kahu, Islamabad, Rs60 million for the hiring of education fellows to fill the gap of subject specialists in Islamabad, and Rs30 million for the Education Voucher Scheme meant for out-of-school children of ICT, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.