Published Date: Dec 15, 2011
SPEAKERS DEMAND INCREASE IN BUDGET ALLOCATION FOR EDUCATION
Wednesday, December 14, 2011: Speakers at a Policy forum on ‘Education Financing in Pakistan: Challenges and way forward’ demanded substantial increase in budget allocation for education from current meager figure of 2% to 6% of the fiscal budget. The forum was held here on Wednesday by ActionAid Pakistan in collaboration with Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) to mark 14th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC). Among the participants included parliamentarians, civil bureaucracy, educational experts, academicians and civil society activists.Jemal Ahmed, Country Director ActionAid Pakistan said that education financing was a key for social development. He stressed for need to ensure accessibility, availability, affordability and acceptability of education for all. Education can play an important role in bringing real change in the lives of poor people especially the most marginalized section of the society because it is a basic tool of social and individual empowerment, he added. Sardar Husain Babak, Minister for Education, KPK said that there was need for contextualizing the issue. Security is the major issue of KPK that affects any development programme being undertaken by the government, he said adding that extremists were causing severe damage to education infrastructure. He provided an instance from yesterday when four schools were blown by terrorists in a row. Tariq Qamar Baloch, Additional Secretary Colleges and Higher & Technical Education Balochistan said that the government had achieved a land mark success by enhancing education budget of Balochistan to 11% of the fiscal budget. However, he acknowledged that problems for promotion of quality education was innumerable ranging from capacity issues, security and stability crisis, geographical vastness (spread) and restrained accessibility for all. He said that in service teacher training programme initiated by Balochistan government was innovative as well as effective. Dr Slaman Hamayon, director ISAPS said the resource allocation for education at national as well as provincial level had always been very scarce. It resulted in high administrative cost that reflected a bad mark on quality of education. He was of the view that merely 5% students were performing well whereas remaining 95% students were underperforming in both academic and practical fields of life. Uzma Tahir, Manager Policy, Advocacy and Research, ActionAid Pakistan that there was need to address the issues of mystery of macroeconomics, demystifying the national education budget, tax justice issues and debt servicing & defense budget. There are various challenges which need to be addressed including lack of political will, user fees, reaching all children especially girl child, quality teachers for quality education, adult literacy and early childhood education. She recommended that the development & education goals should be at the center of all the economic planning and that there should be progressive taxation policies for long term investment on education. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chief of Party FAFEN stressed for the need to comply with article 25A of the constitution which binds the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children of 5 to 16 years of age. He said that since and efficient efforts were required to implement the law. Then there is dire need to mobilize the available resources for promotion of education, he concluded.