Patting own shoulder: ‘Govt has done remarkable work in education sector’

Speakers urge need for accountability in procurement in the education sector .


Our Correspondent April 14, 2015
Haider Ali Daud of the Bigger Picture Consulting spoke of the need to restore faith in government by ensuring transparency in procurements in the public sector. STOCK IMAGE

LAHORE:


Speakers at a policy dialogue, Procurements in Education Sector: Enhancing Transparency and Accountability, on Tuesday highlighted various mechanisms [audit reports and accountability systems] which could be used to ensure transparency in procurements in the education sector. The dialogue was organised by the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (ISAPS).


Hamid Masood, a research fellow at the ISAPS, gave a detailed presentation on horizontal accountability in terms of procurements in the education sector, including school council procurements, textbooks and school civil works. He identified frequent audits by the School Education Department, publication of annual reports, capacity building of members involved in the procurement cycle and various accountability systems where interventions could be beneficial.



Haider Ali Daud of the Bigger Picture Consulting spoke of the need to restore faith in government by ensuring transparency in procurements in the public sector. He said procurements should reflect the needs and requirements of the public, especially in health and education sectors.

Rana Munawar Ghaus, a member of the standing committee for education in the Punjab Assembly, said while all governments in the past had tried to focus on major public sectors, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led government’s performance in those sectors has remained historic.

Ghaus’s statement extolling the policies spearheaded by various PML-N governments in the education sector came in response to scathing criticism by MPA Khadija Umar who had claimed that the government had shirked its responsibility towards the sector and had conceded the responsibility of education to the private sector.  She said the public sector had rolled back over the years and the government had failed to do its duty. “Though terrorism has, indeed, posed a major challenge…we cannot risk ignoring sectors of crucial importance, like education.”

MPA Farzana Butt said that the government had allocated a significant portion of its budget to education. “This demonstrates the government’s commitment to the cause.”

MPA Sadia Sohail of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said the greatest threat to governance was the government’s failure to ensure the right person for the right job. She said power was centred on a few individuals and it was inevitable that good governance could only be a distant dream. “This is precisely why it is necessary to devolve power…we need to ensure transparency in governance and utilisation of budgetary allocations.”

Ghaus, who was chairing the dialogue, said the government had addressed the major problem of missing facilities at schools. He said in the wake of the terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar, it had become necessary for the government to ensure safety at all schools. This, in turn, had taken a toll on the government’s resources and had affected certain education sector projects including the up-grade of several schools in the province, he said.  Ghaus said the PML-N led government had introduced education reforms in 2008 and 2013 which had helped transform the public education sector.

Planning and Budget Deputy Secretary Qaiser Rasheed said the government had set aside 26 per cent of the provincial budget for education. He said in 2012-2013, Rs3 billion was identified as non-salary budget, this had been raised to Rs14 billion in the current fiscal year. “This is a significant increase in three years,” he said.

Rasheed said in 2005-2006, the budget for education was Rs2 billion which had been raised to Rs18.6 billion for the current fiscal year. “Our biggest challenge is to sustain this increase in the budget in the coming years.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2015. 

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