Education having stayed on the backburner for too long, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N)-led government has now decided to give it greater priority in the new budget by allocating a total of Rs57.4 billion for development of higher education.
This allocation includes Rs18.4 billion for the proposed Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the fiscal 2013-2014, against Rs15.8 billion allocated last year, plus a hefty amount of Rs39 billion, allocated to increase the enrolment in higher education by 14% from 1.08 million students in 2012-13 to 1.23 million students in 2013-14.
With an addition of 2,000 more scholarships, the number of scholarships will rise from 4,249 to 6,249 during 2013-14. A major chunk of the proposed allocations, however, goes to infrastructure development, including establishment of new educational institutions, a department for higher education and upgrading and improvement in the existing facilities.
For a new programme – Youth Laptop Scheme for Islamabad Capital Territory, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgi-Baltistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) – Rs 300 million have been allocated.
A handsome scholarship amount has also been allocated for Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students wishing to study outside Pakistan.
The Planning Commission proposed Rs1.4 billion for the Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS) for Master of Science (MS) and MPhil students pursuing PhD degrees in selected fields.
Another Rs550 million has been earmarked for the revised PhD fellowship programme. Rs739 million has also been allocated for indigenous PhD fellowship.
Rs740 million has been allocated for Human Resource Development Initiative-MS leading to PhD Programme of Faculty Development for Engineering Universities.
The PSDP carries Rs370 million for the establishment of women university in Multan and Rs700 million for the construction of new campus of Jalozai Khyber Pukhtunkhwa University of Engineering and Technology, UET, Peshawar.
For the FATA students, Rs250 million has been allocated. Planning Commission has also approved Rs650 million for strengthening the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore and proposed Rs116 million for 1,000 Cuban Scholarships.
The commission also proposed Rs130 million for Pakistani university students enrolled in agriculture and business administration study programmes.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2013.