‘Enhance education budget to meet challenges’

Participants at a dialogue express concern about government’s lack of focus on education budget.


Peer Muhammad October 23, 2010

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.

COMMENTS (1)

Zahid Hussain | 11 years ago | Reply In view of the financial constraints it is inevitable to review and restructer the entire education system in Pakistan from primary to doctrate level. A chart "Fragmentation and Segmentation of Education System" developed by Dr. Ishrat Hussain, former Governor State Bank of Pakistan underlines the self-explanatory need for a pro-poor confidence building meaningful education policy approach emphasizing early learning for more earning through Work Integrated Learning which has been successfully experimented in Germany where Dual System was set up as national training system. Under this system, Germany transferred nearly 70 percent of its secondary school students from full time secondary school to working as apprentices, in more than 300 manufacturing and service sector occupations. This system requires that the students work 3 or 4 days a week under an employer's mentorship, and attend school only 1or 2 days a week to receive traditional education like mathematics, science, social studies and languages. This dual system led to a very low youth unemployment rate in Germany in comparison to countries worldwide. In addition, this system has led to a youth unemployment rate well under the average unemployment rate. USAID has launched a multi-million dollar USAIDs Jobs project through a media campaign in Pakistan. It needs to be properly executed through appropriate institutional linkages to make the project successful by converting the secondary schools dropout rate into increased self-employment rate.
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