Dubbed visionless, the Rs2.96 billion education budget has not found many takers in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). The budget has seemingly failed to appease the vexed officials who even went as far as to say that the KMC has lost its direction.
“Mere numbers do not matter,” said an education departmen official on condition of anonymity. “They have literally no plan in place and the higher-ups do not bother to take input from the relevant quarters.”
This year’s budget is a meagre six per cent more than last year’s allocation of Rs2.75 billion. KMC administrator Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi, however, believed that the amount was enough for all the planned projects, which include improvement of educational institutions, provision of free books to students and teachers’ training, to see the light of day.
The fact that the no new development project was announced by the administration and Rs234 million have been set aside for 57 ongoing schemes is an ample proof that little planning went into the formulation of education budget. An even bigger tragedy is that most of the development budget would be spent on renovation and rehabilitation of several of the 630 KMC schools across the city. “It has become an annual exercise to allocate funds for repair and renovation and this leaves one wondering as to why it was not finished the previous year,” said another official. “Without a concrete plan, even Taj Mahal-style school buildings cannot improve the standards of education.”
Besides the schools, the KMC also runs four teacher training institutes and 70 industrial homes that train women in sewing, embroidery and handicrafts.
Another possible impediment in the implementation of scehemes is the impending devolution of education, health and advertisement departments to District Municipal Corporations from July 1, which would be followed by massive reshuffling within KMC. This has sowed confusion in the ranks about the future plan of action.
“The government has been entangled between the commissionerate and the local government system for the last five years and the KMC has bore the brunt of it,” said a senior education department official. “At present, we have no plan - short term or otherwise.”
Another official took exception to the entire budget announcement. “KMC is not eligible to announce the budget as it does not even have money to pay its employees,”
The Express Tribune has learnt that around 9,000 permanent and 600 contractual employees of the education department have not been paid for the last two months.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2013.
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