With an ‘education emergency’ in place and the highest education budget of any other province for 2014-15, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government is still unable to increase the enrolment of children in schools.
According to budget documents, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led provincial government’s allocation to uplift the education sector is Rs111 billion, which is 27.4% of its Rs404.8 billion total outlay.
Despite being the second largest allocation after health, around 2.5 million children are still out of school across the province.
K-P District Education Management Information System (EMIS) 2013-14 reports state the total population of boys between the ages of 5 and 16 is close to 3.7 million. However, around 736,000 of them are out of schools in the 25 districts of the province. The situation is far worse for the over 3.4 million girls of the province as around half of them (1,723,215) are not receiving an education.
Enrolling students is not the only problem. Of the over 78,000 sanctioned posts for teachers at the primary level, more than 6,800 positions lie vacant. On the intermediate level, 7,409 of the 21,494 sanctioned posts have no teacher occupying them. For secondary education, 30,844 posts were sanctioned by the government, but 6,315 of them are vacant. Finally, there are no teachers to fill 2,193 of the 11,000 posts in the higher education sector.
As far as the teachers occupying the sanctioned posts are concerned, consistency is a problem. According to the Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Ranking 2014 report, 14% of the total teachers are absent from school on any given day in K-P.
The report showed that during the last academic year, teachers in K-P spent an average of 48 days performing duties that have nothing to do with teaching, such as enrolment drives and election duties concerning the voters’ list.
Talking to The Express Tribune, K-P Alif Ailaan Network Coordinator Umar Orakzai says that in April 2014, the PTI-led government launched a provincial enrolment campaign, saying that around 700,000 children will be put into government schools.
According to the ranking of the non-governmental organisation, Haripur was ranked 10 out of all the districts in Pakistan last year. In 2014, however, it plummeted to No.34 in the rankings and now the highest ranked district in K-P is Malakand at 29.
Orakzai blames the flailing state of education in the province on the government’s failure to spend its budget on development in the sector. He says most public schools lack basic facilities and the dropout rate is increasing by the day.
K-P Standing Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education Chairman Arif Muhammadzai told The Express Tribune the government’s main focus is on education and it is keen on making positive changes to the crucial sector.
He claims authorities have succeeded in their target of enrolling children into schools in 2014.
Muhammadzai adds that around 14,000 new teachers are needed to fill positions in various schools and 8,000 of them have been appointed thus far. He says after enrolment, they will focus on other problems.
He highlights that the government is paying special attention to building the capacity of teachers and improving the quality of education in K-P.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2014.