Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Pakistan - Budget 2012 and Education

Budget 2012 & Education

So each year, we come across our Finance Minister delivering his budget speech amidst loud protest, only this time there were punches being thrown instead of bangles. The Prime Minister had said it loud and clear way back before the announcement of budget that his priorities for this year are going to be: 
      i.            Electricity (finally he realizes its significance) 
     ii.            Employment 
    iii.            Agriculture 
    iv.            No new taxes (is this even classified as a priority?)

Sadly, as done by previous governments, there was no mention of Education. The PM has been conveniently hiding education under the mat by putting its responsibility under provinces after PPP’s glorious 18th amendment. This goes without saying that there are provinces in Pakistan that barely manage to spend their budgeted allocation (Education Emergency Report 2011). With our government spending 1-2% of GDP on education on average, what good can be said about the state of education in Pakistan?

In any case, this time our government has earmarked Rs. 47.874 billion, against the recommended sum of Rs. 100 billion (by EER 2011) to meet the Millenniums Development Goal 2015 of Universal Primary Education. This is a meager 1.03% of our budget (Dawn) and goes to show the world how serious we are in playing our part in eradicating illiteracy. Compared to last year’s budget, Education has witnessed a 21.16% increase which is 18% less than the increase seen in PM House’s garden maintenance expenditure.

Just across the border, India has taken a revolutionary step by passing ‘Right to Education’ (RTO) bill and its Supreme Court has directed private schools to maintain a 25% quota for giving free education to deserving children. Indian government in its budget 2012 has set aside Rs. 255.55 billion for such projects (Times of India). It has since long realized the need for educating its posterity in order for it to set its mark around the world and currently has a 74% literacy rate.

Our government lacks the leadership needed to think long term and has always gone for short term solutions. Budgets have come and gone without any marked improvement being seen by the eyes of an average Pakistani. Even the provinces cannot be excused for completely politicizing education with schemes such as the ‘Youth Laptop’ in Punjab. Emphasis needs to be given to proper planning and policy making so that a long term strategy can be put to place that gives everyone a clear direction and goal. Whereas, more spending is the need of the hour, one can not ignore effective utilization of public money at the same time. 

In order for the remnants of this nation to survive and build this country, it is necessary that we all raise a voice in support of education! Our government will not realize its significance until we amplify it. In the words of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan:

“It is the categorical verdict of all the nations and great seers of the world that national progress depends on education and training (of the people).”.


References:
Education Emergency Report 2011: http://pakistaneducationtaskforce.com/EE_Report.pdf
Image: Britannica Image Quest (www.quest.eb.com),  thenewstribe.com, allpakistaninews.com (Designed in-house)

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