Education share in budget declining: Alif Ailaan

Lahore:28 June:Speakers at a post budget session on Monday expressed concern at the progressive decline in share of education sector in the provincial budget over the past few years.

Statistics shared at the session organised by Alif Ailaan showed that in 2013-14 26 per cent of the provincial budget was allocated to the education sector. The share of the sector came down to 24 per cent in 2014-15 and to 21.4 per cent in 2015-16.

In the 2016-17 budget, funds allocated for the education sector came to 18.6 per cent of the provincial budget.

The data showed that of the Rs32.8 billion allocated for the sector under development expenditures only Rs14 billion was spent as of April 2016 (around 42 per cent).

An Alif Ailaan official said that the government had been unable to turn budgetary allocations into actual spending on development projects in the education sector. He said there had been little progress in education indicators in the province.

The official said a large number of school-age children in the province still remained out of school. The government had been unable to control dropout rates, he added.

Earlier, a presentation was made on the state of education in the province. Statistics shared in the presentation showed that 44 per cent children between the age of five and 15 years were still out of school. Of this, 46 per cent were girls. The dropout rate at primary level was estimated to be around 35 per cent for boys and 34 per cent for girls.

The presentation stressed that while there had been progress in provision of missing facilities, the quality of education continued to be abysmally low. Statistics showed that around 55 per cent students could not read a complete story in Urdu and 76 per cent in English (text suitable for grade 2 students) and 65 per cent could not solve a two-digit division problem.

The session was also attended by Higher Education Minister Zakia Shah Nawaz, MNA Rana Muhammad Afzal; MPAs Najma Afzal, Khola Amber, Sadia Sohail, Aleem Shah, Fatima Fareeha and Tamkeen Niazi.

Zakia Shah Nawaz said that there was much to be desired in the state of public education in the province. However, she said, parliamentarians were now taking up issues related to the sector with a sense of responsibility. “The Parliament has taken responsibility and is working towards the goal of a better education system in the country,” she said, “We need participation from all stakeholders to move towards a better education system.”

Rana Muhammad Afzal stressed the need for transparency in the budget making process. He said Opposition’s input should be taken into consideration in finalising the budget.

Sadia Sohail said political participation was lacking in the budget making process. “We need to correct our priorities and ensure uniformity in curricula taught to the children.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2016.

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