LAHORE: The government has allocated Rs312.8 billion for the education sector in the 2016-2017 budget – 18.6 per cent of the total budgetary allocation. Last year, the allocation for education was Rs310 billion.
Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said that the government was committed to providing quality educational services. “For this, an estimated amount of Rs312.8 billion will be spent on improving access, quality and coverage of education,” she said.
According to the budgetary documents, Rs50 billion has been allocated for Strengthening of Schools Programme. “In two years, the amount will be used to build 36,000 new classrooms in primary schools and provision of other missing facilities,” the document states.
Rs28 billion will be used to construct more than 19,000 classrooms and missing facilities. The British government’s Department for International Development (DfID) is also a partner in this programme. It will construct around 11,000 new classrooms at a cost of Rs17.6 billion.
Pasha said that girl students from 6th to 10th grades would be provided Rs1,000 stipends in south Punjab. As many as 400,000 girls will benefit.
She said 10 per cent more funds had been allocated for south Punjab in the education budget than its share of population.
In the 2016-17 fiscal year, the government has fixed the targets of providing missing facilities to all schools, IT labs in 500 secondary and higher secondary schools, construction of 12,500 additional classrooms in primary schools, reconstruction of 4,063 dilapidated school buildings and opening 500 new primary schools through the PEF.
As many as 45,000 primary school teachers will be hired during the fiscal year. Pasha said that 1.9 million children were receiving free education at private education institutions through the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF). “Rs12 billion has been allocated for the PEF. An estimated 2.2 million children will receive free education through PEF,” she said.
The minister announced that the allocation for Punjab Education Endowment Fund (PEEF) would be doubled. “This year Rs4 billion will be provided to PEEF. Its total volume will reach Rs20 billion,” she said.
According to the budget document, four more Daanish Schools will be constructed in Bhakkar, Taunsa and Dera Ghazi Khan districts at the cost of Rs3 billion.
For special education, Rs1 billion has been allocated. More special education centres will be established in the province.
For higher education sector, the minister said that Rs46.86 billion had been allocated. She said development projects would be started in Sialkot, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Multan. “The projects will focus on enhancing facilities. Rs4 billion has been allocated for providing laptops to 0.4 million students. A women university and IT and engineering university will also be established this year,” she said.
New initiatives include construction of the building of Women University in Sialkot, construction of the building of Engineering College of University of Sargodha, establishment of the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, establishment of universities in Sahiwal, Okara and Jhang, faculty development of teachers of postgraduate colleges, establishment of sub-campuses of Government College University Faisalabad at Jaranwala and Toba Tek Singh and establishment of sub-campuses of Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) in Vehari.
Funds have been allocated for the establishment of 36 degree colleges, provision of missing facilities at 49 colleges and up-grade of two degree colleges.
Rs2,000 million has been allocated for the establishment of Lahore Knowledge Park and IT and Engineering University. Rs4,000 million has been allocated for the PEEF for higher education sector.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2016.