ISLAMABAD: Participants at a roundtable dialogue Thursday asked the government to double the budgetary allocation for education with particular focus on the disadvantaged segment of the society to meet growing challenges. The education budget allocated this year is less than two per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
“The educational budget now is not only insufficient but at times lapses or is not properly used due to administrative loopholes,” participants observed at the dialogue on ‘Effectiveness of Education Spending: Post Budget Scenario 2010-11’, organised by the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences and Campaign for Quality Education in collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID) of Britain at a local hotel.
They also emphasised the importance of teacher training and research-based educational policies instead of introducing derived policies.
One of the speakers said that 26 per cent of the total federal allocation for education sector goes to 22 cadet colleges. He said that Rs513 million funds have been allocated in the federal budget for 2010-11 for eight new cadet colleges where children of elite class could enrol. “Instead of these cadet colleges we would have been able to upgrade about 500 schools in 2010-11,” he said.
In his presentation, I-SAPS Executive Director Salman Hamayun said that 36 per cent of children never enroll in schools. The 64 per cent of children that do enrol in schools are down to 57 per cent by grade five, 40 per cent by middle school and a meagre 27 per cent by high school.
Besides, he said, 11 per cent schools are shelterless, 26 per cent schools are without drinking water, 52 per cent lack toilets and 30 per cent schools have no boundary walls.
Abbas Rashid, an educationist, pointed out that majority of students in grade five are performing below 50 per cent in all subjects with the “light exception” of Urdu. In grade eight, students perform slightly better than the 50 per cent mark. Urdu again, he said, is their strongest subject.
He further added that the performance is not much better in the private schools either. Very few schools like City School or Beaconhouse are doing well, which are mostly beyond the reach of the common man, Rashid said.
He was of the view that there is a wide gape between policy and budgetary allocations. “We must address this disconnection, otherwise student achievements will remain stagnant,” he suggested.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2010.
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