Higher education: ‘Foreign universities invited to the Punjab’

Published: January 10, 2014
Conference speakers say unspent education budget “alarming”. PHOTO: FILE

Conference speakers say unspent education budget “alarming”. PHOTO: FILE


Minister for Commerce and Industries Chaudhary Shafiq Ahmad on Thursday said the government was in contact with 35 international universities to establish their campuses in the province.

He was addressing an all parties conference on education organised by the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) in collaboration with Ilm Ideas.

He said the government had released funds for provision of missing facilities at public schools.

“Unfortunately, many parts of the province are still under feudal influence. This has greatly impeded education in these areas,” he said.

I-SAPS research fellow Ahmad Ali highlighted various aspects of the education budget and spending patterns. He stressed the need for oversight by provincial assembly members from both the treasury and opposition benches.

He said 3,004 education schemes were recommended by the Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit (PMIU) last year.

He said under the head of missing facilities, only 20 per cent of the 1,664 recommendations had been implemented.

He emphasised the need for synchronisation of data, policy and budgetary allocations. He also presented a educational profile of Muzaffargarh, Lodhran and Rahim Yar Khan districts where, he said, the dropout aggregate was over 55 per cent.

MPA Chaudhary Awais Qasim said the development budget had not spent fully utilised last year because of restrictions imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

MPA Murad Ross said the fact that 77 per cent of the education budget was not spent was “alarming.”

“I spoke at the floor of the assembly for 45 minutes but regrettably no action was taken,” he said.

MPA Faiza Malik said the approach by the ruling party was “discriminatory”.

JUI-F’s Hafiz Abu Bakr said the government’s education agenda implemented in Pakistan was not indigenous but was being dictated by the USA.

Ishtiaq Chaudhary, deputy secretary general of Pakistan Awami Tehreek, said the rulers were not serious about devolving administrative and financial powers. He said the proposed district education authorities would not be independent and would be influenced by the government. He said the government must ensure equal distribution of the education budget in all districts of the Punjab.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2014.

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