ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to bear 100 per cent non-development expenditure - salaries and allowances - for one year of over 17,000 community schools which are going to be devolved to provinces.

The Ministry of Finance through an official letter dated Feb 25 stated that for the first year the federal government will bear 100pc expenditure of Basic Education Community Schools (BESC) and National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) schools followed by 75pc in the second year and 50pc in the third year.

Afterward, the provincial governments will take full responsibility.

The BESC and NCHD, which are subsidiary organisations of the Ministry of Federal Education, have been running 12,000 and over 5,000 schools, respectively.

Over 17,000 BESC and NCHD schools going to be devolved to provinces

These single-teacher schools have their large network in far-flung areas of the country, where students have no access to regular schools. These schools are also important for improving literacy rate of the country and bringing out-of-schools children to schools.

After 18th amendment, these schools should have been devolved to provinces but they remained neglected.

According to a decision of the federal government and Council of Common Interest (CCI) made in November last year, these schools will be devolved to provinces.

The Ministry of Finance in the letter added: “As an incentive to the provinces for assuming the functions and taking the NCHD employees on their payroll, salaries and allowances may be funded 100pc by the federal government for the first 12 months immediately after the transfer. Thereafter, the federal government may fund up to 75pc for next year and 50pc for the third year following which the entire expenses may be borne by the provinces along with complete transfer of functions of NCHD and BESC to provincial governments.”

The finance ministry said a schedule to complete the proposal may be started from March 1 to April 2021.

“A working group may be established including members from Ministry of Education and Professional Training, Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordinate and Finance Division to complete the unaccomplished agenda of devolution with respect to NCHD and BECS along with transfer of all functions and sectors of NCHD and BESC to provinces,” it added.Meanwhile, the education ministry also issued a circular on Feb 25, seeking the consent of the regular employees of BESC about their future posting. The circular said the employees will be adjusted in subordinate departments of the ministry or placed at the disposal of the surplus pool of the federal government after June 30, 2021.

The education ministry asked the employees to submit their consent if they want to go to the surplus pool of the Establishment Division, join the Ministry of Education or Directorate General of Religious Affairs or remain part of BESC.

Explaining the reasons for giving an option to the employees, which is going to be devolved, an officer said not all but some employees could be adjusted in BESC as schools operating in Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be devolved.

“Though a final announcement and roadmap is yet to be made, schools in Islamabad, AJK and GB will remain a federal subject,” said the officer.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2021

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