Given the current dismal budgetary allocation for education in the country, Rs1.21 trillion is the estimated amount that will be needed to meet the target of dedicating four per cent of GDP for the sector, said a report.
Alif Ailaan, a non-governmental organization, released a detailed report last week on federal and provincial government allocations for the uplift of education sector in the country.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while speaking earlier this month at the Oslo Education Summit, reiterated his government’s commitment to ensure four per cent GDP expenditure on education before end of his term in 2018.
The PML-N government first promised to achieve this target during the last general elections. The party manifesto also promises the same. The steps taken so far by the government though suggest otherwise.
The report points out that the federal and the provincial governments had overall allocated Rs733 billion for the education sector in the budget 2015-16.
The federal government has allocated Rs97 billion, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Rs119 billion; Punjab Rs310 billion; Sindh Rs157 billion and Balochistan Rs48 billion.
The allocation of Rs733 billion, amounts to just 2.68 per cent of the GDP. This is an increase of only 0.06 per cent compared to last year’s allocation of Rs656 billion.
During the last three years, the allocations have overall increased by over Rs154 billion.
This, according to the report, has generated a small but relatively insignificant increase in terms of education allocations as percentage of the GDP, partly because the latter has been growing during these two years.
Interestingly, the report highlights that only Rs17.4 billion of the Rs154 billion that is 11.3 per cent of the increase in allocations has come from the federal government. Almost 90 per cent of the increase in allocations has come from the provinces.
In terms of increase in allocations Balochistan is far ahead of the rest of the provinces, with Sindh figuring at the bottom of the list.
Compared with the previous budget, the federal government has increased allocation for education by 21.7 per cent, while among the provinces Balochistan leads with 39 per cent, followed by Punjab 33 per cent; K-P 24 per cent and Sindh a meagre 16 per cent.
The report points out that in the first three budgets passed by the ongoing federal and provincial assemblies the total increase in spending for the education sector has been Rs154 billion.
The report suggests that the governments will need to increase the allocations up to Rs1.2 trillion by 2018 to meet the four per cent promise made at national and the international levels.
The report highlighted that on average more than 80 per cent of the allocated amount was being spent on teacher salaries.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.