PESHAWAR: Participants at a meeting held to discuss the education budget expressed dissatisfaction over the amount allocated for the promotion of quality education and to improve existing infrastructure in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS), a research organisation, held a discussion session with K-P legislators on Tuesday to obtain their views on the education budget. The session was titled ‘Provincial Education Budget 2013-14 in K-P.’
In his detailed presentation, I-SAPS Senior Research Associate Ahmad Ali drew a gloomy picture of the state of education in the province. He highlighted shortcomings and deficient facilities in K-P’s educational institutions.
Ali revealed around 46% of children aged between five to nine years in the province are still out of school, while nearly 4.5 million children aged between nine and 16 years do not pursue higher education.
He added around 29% of educational institutes do not have facilities for clean drinking water, while nearly 42% schools are without electricity, 17.3% do not have washrooms and nearly 20.5% primary schools do not have a proper boundary wall.
Presenting an analysis of the education budget, Ali said a drastic cut had been made in non-salary expenditure of the education sector, adding this would have a direct impact on development. “Administrative expenditure has also been reduced by 3% as compared to allocation of funds in the outgoing fiscal year,” he informed.
Ali lamented the government had slashed the budget for higher education to 14% for the upcoming financial year. However, he appreciated the government for increasing funds to provide free textbooks to intermediate students.
Lawmakers Munawar Khan, Saleem Khan, Sobiya Shahid and Sardar Zahoor Ahmad criticised the government for insufficient allocation to the education sector. They were of the opinion that it should allocate maximum funding for capacity building of teaching staff and improving facilities in existing institutions.
On the other hand, Meraj Hamayun of the Qaumi Watan Party appreciated the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government, saying it had presented a very balanced budget despite time constraints. She said her party, a coalition partner, would play an effective role in the promotion of education.
Women legislators of the PTI disagreed with remarks of the discussion’s participants and opposition lawmakers. They maintained the government had given top priority to the education sector.
Besides lawmakers from various parties, officials of the education department and representatives of non-governmental organisations also attended the session.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.
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