ISLAMABAD: Despite an increase in the 2015-16 education budget Pakistan’s current expenditure on education is the lowest in South Asia.
“Pakistan has a literacy rate of 58pc, which has improved from 35pc in 1990-91, but still way behind the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target of 88pc, which was to be achieved by the end of 2015,” a report launched on Wednesday stated.
The report, ‘Public Financing of Education in Pakistan and Agenda for Education Budget 2016-17’, was launched by the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS).
‘Utilisation of increased education budget needs to be improved’
The report said that although education statistics have improved over the last few years, vast disparities still remain at the provincial level.
The report also said there are around 24 million out-of-school children in Pakistan, the second highest figure in the world after Nigeria.
Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Mohammad Balighur Rehman attended the launch of the report.
At the event, he said such reports are not only useful to educationists but also to the government.
“The government must know that it is lacking in education budgeting and public financing, a healthy dialogue on such a pertinent issue is extremely beneficial for education,” he said.
Mr Rehman added that the present constraints and improvements to the education system must be kept in mind, and spoke about the increase in the education budget over the last three years.
Presenting the report, I-SAPS executive director Salman Humayun said an analysis of previous federal and provincial education budgets revealed some encouraging facts.
“It is heartening to see a visible increase in education budgets for all the provinces in 2015-16, with Balochistan registering an increase of 19pc, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 12pc, Punjab with 10pc and Sindh with an increased allocation of 7pc, compared with the previous year’s budgets,” he said.
He added that the utilisation of the allocated budget must be improved.
Mr Humayun said that according to the analysis of education budgets, budgetary allocations were not generally leveraged against key challenges, such as the access and quality of education.
“Some of the considerable issues in this context include inadequate engagement of legislature in the budget-making process, insufficient allocations compared with the actual needs, untimely fiscal flow, corruption, huge administrative expenditure, lack of transparency,” he said.
The report also presented the status of education in all four provinces. It said that according to Pakistan’s social and living standards measurements, Punjab has a net enrolment rate of 64pc at the primary level, while the literacy rate for males is 71pc, and 52pc for females.
The survival rate until fifth grade is 71pc, and the transition rate from primary to middle is 97pc. The number of out-of-school children aged between five and 16 is 13.1 million, which constitutes 47pc of the total population of children of school-going age. Out of this, 52pc are girls.
Sindh has a total of 46,039 public schools, of which 15pc are girls’ schools and 62pc are co-ed schools.
Of these schools, the majority are primary schools – 91pc – followed by 4pc middle, 1pc elementary, 4pc secondary and 1pc higher secondary schools.
Overall enrolment in government schools is 4.04 million, out of which 65pc are enrolled at the primary level. The net enrolment rate at the primary level is 48pc, while the literacy rate is 67pc for males and 43pc for females.
The number of out-of-school children is 6.2 million – 51pc of the total number of school-age children, and 54pc of these are girls.
The net enrolment rate in KP at the primary level is 54pc. The literacy rate is 72pc for males and 36pc for females.
The survival rate to fifth grade is 67pc and the transition rate from primary to middle is 82pc. The number of out-of-school children in the province is 2.5 million, which makes up 34pc of the total population of school-going children. Of these, 4.7pc are girls.
There are 12,576 public schools in Balochistan, 28pc of which are girls’ schools. Of these, 84pc are primary schools, followed by 9pc middle, 6pc high and less than 1pc higher secondary schools.
Overall enrolment in government schools is 1.1 million, 50pc of which are enrolled at the primary level. The report found that 43,620 teachers are working in Balochistan, 32pc of which are women.
According the Pakistan social and living standards measurement 2013-14, the net enrolment at the primary level is 39pc, while the literacy rate is 59pc for males and 25pc for females.
The survival rate to fifth grade is 46pc, and the transition rate from primary to middle is 75pc. The number of out-of-school children is 1.8 million, about 66pc of the total population of school going age children, and 4.51pc of these are girls.
Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2016