New projects in the higher education budget announced on Friday included 37 new degree colleges, provision of missing facilities at 58 colleges, establishment of women universities in Multan and Bahawalpur and issuance of university charter to Government College for Women, Faisalabad.
The provincial government has allocated Rs2 billion for the Punjab Education Endowment Fund and Rs1 billion for establishment of the Lahore Knowledge Park.
The budget document mentions the following new higher education initiatives: construction of buildings at Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan; Women University, Sialkot; Engineering College of University of Sargodha; and sub campuses of Government College University and Lahore College for Women University at Kala Shah Kaku.
It also mentions establishment of sub-campuses of the University of the Punjab in Chakwal, Okara and Jhang districts; of University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila, in Pind Dadan Khan; of Government College University, Faisalabad, in Jaranwala and Toba Tek Singh; of Bahauddin Zakariyya University in Vehari. The budget also provides for the establishment of a Higher Education Complex in Lahore and the establishment of University of Sahiwal.
The recurrent expenditure on the education sector was budgeted at Rs59.4 billion (Rs12.69 billion more than last year). Of this, Rs29.3 billion is allocated for school education, Rs27.4 billion for higher education, Rs199.5 million for special education, Rs49.6 million for non-formal basic education.
In the development budget for education, Rs10.5 billion is set aside for the Punjab Education Foundation, Rs3 billion for Daanish Schools, Rs2 billion for the Punjab Education Endowment Fund, Rs2 billion for the Technical And Vocational Training Authority and Rs1 billion for the Punjab Vocational And Training Council.
The provincial government has set a literacy rate target of 64 per cent (the current rate is 59 per cent) and allocated Rs1.88 billion for the purpose.
In the special education sector, the provincial government has allocated funds for the Punjab Inclusive Education Project (in Bahawalpur and Muzafargarh districts). Other projects include construction of buildings of Government Institute for Slow Learners, Bahawalpur, Government Special Education Centres in Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, Multan, Layyah, upgrades from primary- to middle-level at the Government Institutes for Special Education at Wagha, Ravi and Shalimar Towns in Lahore, capacity building programmes for teachers and establishment of a speech therapy unit at Government Training College for Teachers of Deaf, Lahore.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2015.