While the budgetary allocation for education in the new fiscal year is higher than ever before, it is just not enough to school millions of uneducated children.
The estimated Rs504 billion allocated for the fiscal year 2012-13 is nearly 17% higher than last year’s actual spending and is 8% of the entire budget expenditure, according to a recent report released by Alif Ailaan. The combined budget allocation amounts to 1.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In the recent election campaign, political parties promised to increase financial allocation of education to at least by 4% of GDP, the global standard to which most countries have committed and the majority have lived up to. According to the UNDP Human Development Report 2013, only seven developing countries in the world spend less on education than Pakistan.
The education minister called the statistics for out-of-school children and allocations for education shameful and embarrassing for the country in a recent standing committee meeting. “It’s impossible to achieve the MDG for education by 2015.”
K-P’s headline announcement of the education budget was Rs72.7 billion of which Rs44.7 billion is for the budgets of district and local governments. The new fiscal year’s allocation is 30% higher than actual spending in 2012-13. Under the head of development expenditure, Rs8.1 billion has been allocated to primary and secondary levels and Rs5.7 billion to higher and tertiary education.
Punjab has allocated Rs182 billion for education but this includes health and agricultural education, archives and museums and administration costs. Sindh’s allocation for education is Rs134 billion, but despite the size of the allocation, district-wise education outcomes are amongst the lowest in the country.
Balochistan’s allocation for education is Rs35 billion which represents 21% of the total budget and amounts to a 43% increase over actual spending in 2012-13. The allocation for development expenditure is Rs10.5 billion as opposed to actual spending of Rs1.7 billion in 2012-13, an increase of over 600%.
The budgetary allocation at provincial level amounts to approximately Rs424 billion which is nearly 18% higher than last year’s actual spending. Since 2011-12, the first year of the flow of greater resources to provinces under the 7th National Finance Commission Award, provincial spending on education has increased 37%.
Of the total combined budgeted allocation for education, 82% has been earmarked for current expenditure and 18% for development projects. This means that for every Rs100 the government spends on education, roughly Rs82 are spent on teachers’ salaries and the maintenance of schools, while only Rs18 are left for new investment in the school system. In terms of the ratio of current expenditure-to-development spending, Sindh has the most skewed ratio with 90% current expenditure and 10% development expenditure.
Actual development spending in the education sector fell short of budgeted amounts. In 2012-13, the actual development expenditure on education by all four provinces combined was Rs31 billion, less than 50% of the Rs70.3 billion allocated.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.