LAHORE, Aug 23: The Punjab government has not allocated even a single penny for almost 2,000 flood affected schools, while they require estimated Rs2 billion for their rehabilitation, said Dr Salman Humayun, executive director of Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS).

He was speaking at a post-budget policy dialogue on “Effectiveness of education financing for financial year 2011-12 in Punjab” organised by the institute in collaboration with the Campaign for Quality Education (CQE) and United Kingdom’s Department for International Development at a local hotel on Tuesday.

Dr Humayun said the Punjab government had allocated Rs3 billion for Daanish School System. He said this handsome amount could help upgrade some 660 schools from primary to elementary level and 500 schools from elementary to matriculation level. He said the unit cost per month per child at Daanish School was around Rs16,000, while at ‘Non-Daanish’ government schools, the unit cost per month, per child was just Rs1,600.

The I-SAPS executive director also said that the Punjab government had parked almost 90 per cent money in block allocations in the 2011-12 budget that was usually put on the discretion of the chief minister and spent on his directions to gain political mileage. Similarly, he said, 90 per cent block allocations were made in 2006-07 – little ahead of the general elections.

He said the government had this year allocated Rs10.7 billion for block grants, while allocated only Rs600 million without block grants that had so far been released.

Giving a presentation on “Disconnect between research and policy: Implications for quality education”, SAHE/CQE’s Abbas Rashid said the Punjab government was seemingly following a concept that private schools were the solution to the crises public schools were faced with. He regretted that the government did inform that the Punjab Education Foundation had been allocated Rs6 billion for supporting low-cost private schools but it was never explained as to how much money was spent on running the foundation itself.

Referring quality education assessment, Mr Rashid said the Punjab Examination Commission examined 2.6 million students – 1.6 million at Class V and one million at Class VIII level. “If the pass marks benchmark remained at 33 per cent, only 29 per cent students could qualify Class V and 39.45 per cent students got through Class VIII examinations,” he said.

Chaudhry Javed Ahmad, the chairman of the Punjab Assembly’s standing committee on education, said that it was really an embarrassing situation that the Punjab government did not allocate any budget for the flood-affected schools. He said that he would bring this issue in the notice of the chief minister.

The standing committee’s chairman refrained himself from commenting on the establishment of Daanish schools but said: “Daanish schools are the brainchild of my chief minister and he must have through this initiative ensured good for the underprivileged children living in remote areas”.

He also suggested that the government should run public sector schools in three shifts and all high schools be upgraded as higher secondary schools.

I-SAPS research fellow Ahmed Ali gave a presentation on “Article 25 (a): Challenges and opportunities for education at provincial level”.

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