KARACHI: Education Minister Sardar Shah on Monday told the Sindh Assembly that his department had evolved a ‘roadmap’ by involving all segments of society for radical improvement in the current poor profile of the education sector in Sindh that would soon be presented before the cabinet for approval.
“We have engaged everyone related to the education sector in preparing the roadmap, which will soon be presented in the cabinet meeting,” he said while speaking on the sixth day of the budget debate in the house.
He said the roadmap promised various reforms in schools and colleges in the province, which included improving schools with a greater focus on the underprivileged areas, ensuring qualified teachers who had the urge to turn their students into successful and better citizens and revising the recruitment policy guaranteeing that a teacher of grade-17 could not be transferred from a particular district till one’s promotion to the next pay scale.
He conceded that Sindh had a fair share in 23 million children who were out of schools with more than half in Punjab. He added he was offering no excuse to justify the issue, but his ministry was making plans to improve the number of children enrolled.
“This is a huge challenge for us,” the minister said, adding that the national task force established by the federal government on education should have been formed by evolving a consensus among provinces since education was a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment.
PTI, MQM-P and GDA stage a walkout in protest over the mysterious disappearance of opposition leader’s notes
He said his ministry had no concrete data about real facts regarding educational institutions that warranted it to launch a survey with the third-party help to profile schools.
Mr Shah said poor indicators about education had roots in problems that went back decades. He said there were just 3,000 secondary schools against a whopping 39,000 primary schools, denying students access to secondary education in many regions.
“All this is not rationalised and we are trying to change this by allocating Rs600m on non-formal sector and by bringing more children to school and reining in the ratio of dropping out,” he said.
He said 78 per cent of the ministry’s
budget got drained by salaries. “The introduction of one-class school system in rural districts during General Musharraf’s regime gravely contributed in destroying education in Sindh. No school could be established in a single room and they established 17,000 such schools. It was a politically motivated plan in which dozens of schools were set up in a single village to offer jobs to inefficient people as teachers. One such village had 65 one-room schools.”
He said such schools had been scrapped and the ministry was clustering them to make them viable.
Mr Shah said while girls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa formed 68pc of out-of-school children, the drop-out ratio of girls in Sindh was because of little availability of secondary schools in many regions. “We are upgrading girls’ primary schools to elementary and then high schools to stem this trend and every school will have at least six rooms.”
He said the government would initially build a science museum each in Karachi and Larkana for school students and similar museums would be built in other districts as well.
He said the government would arrange for transport for girls especially in “hard regions”, besides, Rs800m had been added to the earlier Rs1.2 billion for paying a stipend to girl students.
He said some 850 teachers for early childhood education programme had been recruited and 21 English-medium schools were being built.
He said since Finland was the most advanced country in imparting education, the Sindh government had got assistance from the University of Helsinki to train newly recruited teachers.
Mr Shah said Sindh had one teacher for 47 students, but the lack of rationalisation had created the problem as most teachers wanted to be posted in Karachi and Hyderabad at the expense of other districts.
He said plans were being made to ensure no teacher got transferred at least for a year from a school.
He termed various unions of teachers “mafias”, which could not allow the department to improve the education profile of Sindh. He asked the opposition lawmakers to support him in his plans to make all teachers appearing in a test to prove their capability of teaching.
“On this issue, I request the opposition members not to support those mafia-like unions as some of your benches did when we tried to improve standard of teaching,” he said.
Mr Shah said the department was allowing for high schools only in the areas where colleges were not available. He said still there were 29 talukas in Sindh without colleges and the government had allocated money for a scheme to build colleges in 17 such talukas.
Sindh govt asked to return municipal depts
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Khwaja Izharul Hasan demanded that the provincial government return all those institutions which had historically been run by municipalities.
He claimed a large number of jobs had been given to those having fake domiciles.
Khwaja Izhar said the system of commissioners and deputy commissioners had failed in Sindh.
He criticised the provincial government for taxing online cab services, which had provided employment to more than 120,000 people. He said the finance bill featured several taxes, which would affect common man.
Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s Mohammad Qasim said everyone in the country was paying indirect taxes. He said income tax was an “oppressive system” and demanded that the prime minister end this system.
Public Accounts Committee chairman Ghulam Qadir Chandio said despite federal government’s “tyranny”, the Sindh government had offered a “balanced budget”.
Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nand Kumar said the provincial government’s insistence that it was a tax-free budget was farcical.
Jam Madad Ali said it was the PPP’s government that provided water to desert areas.
‘CM House allocation doubled’
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Haleem Adil Shaikh said allocations for CM House had been doubled in the next fiscal year’s budget.
He said during the PPP’s 11-year rule in Sindh, it presented combined budgets of Rs7,268bn.
He claimed that Rs957bn had been misappropriated and Rs391bn had lapsed since then.
MQM-P’s Kanwar Naveed Jameel said water was a serious issue for Karachi, yet, the provincial government had done nothing to resolve that issue.
He claimed: “There are reports that blame Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani for stopping water in the areas of political opponents.”
He said 13pc of development schemes had been allocated for Karachi.
PTI’s Seema Zia said the Sindh government should resign for not providing education to children in the province.
Several other lawmakers also spoke.
Opposition stages walkout
In the closing moments of the day’s proceedings, PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman asked Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani that assembly’s recording section should be used to know about the papers that had “disappeared” from his desk.
He said those were notes prepared by Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi for his speech, demanding the session be adjourned for a while to check it from the recording section.
The chair said such checking could be conducted after the day’s proceedings since it would affect the recording of the proceedings of the day.
The chair allowed Minister Saeed Ghani to speak at which lawmakers of the PTI, MQM-P and GDA walked out, saying, it was an incident that had no precedent in the past.
Mr Ghani said that the federal government had promised to keep Rs167bn for Karachi and gave just Rs16bn in the budget. He said that the Sindh government had kept around Rs78bn for Karachi in various schemes.
He said the Sindh government would launch a wide-ranging development programme for Karachi with the assistance of the World Bank. The programme would cost Rs235bn for five years. “The opposition tells lies and none of its members has read the budget document,” he claimed.
Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2019