LAHORE: Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmed said on Thursday the government had allocated 27 per cent of the year’s budget for education.
The minister was speaking at a meeting of the steering committee tasked with identifying dilapidated school buildings and reconstructing those. He said Rs8.5 billion had been allocated for the purpose. He said a third-party audit would be held to ensure that the construction works were carried out transparently.
Schools Secretary Abdul Jabbar Shaheen told the meeting 892 schools buildings were damaged beyond repair and 2,638 schools were partially affected.
Punjab Education Foundation Chairman Raja Qamarul Islam and Schools Special Secretary Ahmed Ali Kamboh attended the meeting.
Earlier, the minister chaired a meeting to review steps taken for lifting the standards of schools assisted through public-private partnership. He said the private sector and NGOs could play a crucial role in this regard. He ordered that modern sports and extra-curriculum activities be provided at educational institutions. He said work on establishing IT labs at schools should be expedited.
Excise and Taxation Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman said sufficient funds had been allocated in the budget to meet millennium development goals (MDGs) in health and education sectors.
He was speaking to a delegation of party workers at his residence.
The minister said 95 per cent of discretionary funds were being spent on the the poor.
He said Rs166.1 billon – 14 percent of the total budget – had been allocated for health. He said four new Daanish Schools would be set up in less-developed areas in the province. He said 990 high schools would be equipped with computer labs, missing facilities would be provided at 7,500 schools and 500 new schools would be opened this year.
He said the government had reserved Rs1.41 billion to provide incentives to specialist doctors at THQ hospitals. He said 700 basic health units had been upgraded to modern health centres providing healthcare 24 hours a day.
He said skilled birth attendants, lady health visitors and lady health workers were being appointed at health centres. He said that currently the mortality rate among children less than five years of age was 94/1,000. It would be brought down to 45/1,000; the mortality rate among newborns was 54/1,000 and it would be brought down to 25/1,000; and the infant mortality rate was 77/1,000 and would be brought down 40/1,000 by 2015, he said.
He said maternal mortality ratio was 350-500/100,000; it would be brought down to 140 by 2015. He said 20 per cent of births were attended by skilled birth attendants. The ratio would be raised to more than 90 per cent, he said.
The minister said health insurance cards would be issued to the poor. They would be entitled to healthcare services at private health institutions. He said Rs10.82 billion had been reserved for the provision of medicines at public hospitals.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.