Education spending in G-B

Over 60% fall in the pre-primary age of three to five years

Dr Pervez Tahir July 21, 2017

Without being one in the constitutional sense, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has some trappings of a province. It presents and approves a budget in its own assembly. However, resources flow through the budget allocated to the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, not as a share in the National Finance Commission. The budget for 2017-18 presented on June 14th 2017 has the total size of Rs54 billion, up 23.3% over the previous year’s budget of Rs43.8 billion. Out of this, Rs28.26 billion is the non-development budget, up by 11.4% from Rs25.4 billion earmarked last year. An amount of Rs18.3 billion is for development, compared to Rs13 billion in 2016-17. A federal subsidy of Rs7.8 billion is also, according to the finance minister, part of the development budget.

Development expenditure on education has increased from Rs1 billion to Rs1.53 billion, a jump of 53%. However, this amount is only 8.4% of the total development budget. No break-up is available for allocations by functions. It is, therefore, not possible to have a clear idea of the distribution of resources at various levels of education. New school buildings, upgradation and provision of missing facilities are the main objects of expenditure. In 2016-17, there were 89 new and 72 ongoing schemes.

In the allocations shown under the demand related to the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, only two specific schemes are mentioned under education — a technical and a medical college in Gilgit.

In the development budget of the Higher Education Commission, there are two ongoing and two new schemes for G-B. Establishment of an engineering faculty on the Gilgit and Skardu campus of Karakorum International University (KIU) received the approval of the Central Development Working Party in March 2015 at a total cost of Rs887 million. An expenditure of Rs350 million has already been made. The allocation this year is Rs250 million. Although the PC-I for establishment of the University of Baltistan is still under preparation at a total cost of Rs2 billion, the project is categorised as ongoing. A sum of Rs15 million has already been spent and the allocation for 2017-18 is Rs150 million. The two new projects relate to the construction of hostel/sports facilities and the establishment of a constituent medical college at KIU with the respective allocations of Rs40 million and Rs100 million for 2017-18. On the current budget side, normally the major claimant of the education budget, no information is available.

With a population of 1.3 million estimated for 2013, the literacy rate of G-B was 60% — 70% for males and 60% for females. All districts, except Diamer, had a literacy rate ranging between 57-73 per cent. It was 32% in Diamer. These are impressive numbers, reflecting the work of the government as well as the effective presence of the nongovernment sector.

In the case of primary education, there is a bridgeable gap. The Annual Status of Education Report 2015 survey states that 15% of children aged six-16 years are out of school. A more recent report by Unicef places the absolute number of out of school children at 70,000, a little over 50% of these girls. Over 60% fall in the pre-primary age of three to five years. In other words, a big push can put all the primary age group children in school fairly quickly. This, sadly, is not the priority reflected in the budget, which has a huge focus on infrastructure and visible tertiary education projects.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2017.

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M.I.Tabassum | 6 years ago | Reply Good wrting. In reality in G.B, Diamar needs to be focussed more. But all parts needs to help in building insfructacture. teacher and head teachers traing is another area of prime concern.
Lolz | 6 years ago | Reply The total budget of GB is 54 billion whereas the budget of Orange Metro Line is 200 billion.
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