In the Sindh Education Budget 2017-18, the allocation percentage for the development side has been decreased from 21.03% in 2016-17 to 20.06% in 2017-18 with Rs. 202.7 billion set aside for the sector.
For the financial year 2017-18, the total budget under pre-primary and primary education has also gone down from Rs. 55.3 billion in 2016-17 to Rs. 50.9 billion.
However, the provincial government claims that education has been given top priority this year too, in the annual budget 2017-18 with an overall increase of 24%. Presenting the budget in the Sindh Assembly, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah claimed that the increase in non-salary allocation for the education sector was much higher compared with the previous years.
The break-up of the budgetary allocations show that Rs. 21 billion has been allocated for the sector in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) from the total of Rs. 244 billion for the ongoing and new schemes. Education received 6.1% of the total Rs. 344 billion ADP in 2017-18, including foreign funding, federal funds and district budgets.
Rs. 21 billion has been specified for the 460 ongoing and new schemes for all five sections of education – school education, college education, special education, Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Stevta) and universities and boards. The ADP for 2016-17 was Rs. 17 billion in total, while in the current year allocations has been increased mainly in the schools and universities and boards departments. The budget for special education and Stevta has remained the same.
The documents show that the allocation for the ADP 2016-17 was Rs. 17.2 billion, with Rs. 13 billion for the education and literacy department, which until last year included schools and colleges under one roof, Rs. 213 million for special education, Rs. 1.07 billion for Stevta and Rs. 2.95 billion for universities and boards.
The current annual development programme includes establishment of comprehensive schools, cadet colleges for girls in different districts, construction of the Ghulam Muhammad Mahar Medical College in Sukkur, renovation of Chandka Medical College and construction of Noori girls hostel in Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University (SMBBMU), Larkana.
With an increase of Rs. 645 million in the budget, five new schemes have been added to the universities and boards departments, including
A major ongoing project in secondary education is the establishment of 25 English medium schools in each district, which is supposed to be completed in June 2018, with an allocation of Rs. 400 million. In the teacher’s education budget, capacity building of teachers has been added as a new scheme with an estimated cost of Rs. 40 million.
the establishment of a postgraduate research diagnostic laboratory at SMBBMU, strengthening of water and sewerage infrastructure at Karachi University and development of Dawood University of Engineering and Technology.
The up-gradation of the Government College of Technology into a university of technology and skill development (Khairpur) was included in the 2016-17 budget, which has been repeated in the new schemes section this year, as the project never gained approval. The 2016-17 documents stated that the project was being completed in collaboration with the federal government – Rs. 1.5 billion would be the federal government’s share while Rs. 1.5 billion would be the Sindh government’s – but the 2017-18 budget book stated that the project would receive Rs. 892 million from the Sindh government and Rs. 1.5 billion from the Centre.
Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority’s budgetary allocation has not been increased but seven schemes have been included in the new schemes section. Two different projects for the establishment of government vocational centres for girls have been ongoing since last year and a similar scheme has been added for other districts. Four units of vocational centres in Shaheed Benazirabad, Khairpur, Kamber-Shahdadkot and Tando Allahyar are to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 92 million.
As far as education for special children is concerned, the main scheme included in the new budget is establishment of an audiovisual library at the special education complex in Karachi. Last year’s main highlight – the construction of an autism centre in Karachi – was just approved and the land has been allocated. According to the 2016-17 budget books, the project was to be completed by June, 2018, but the upcoming budget states that the date of completion will be June 2020 with the estimated cost increased by Rs. 188.4 million from the Rs. 100 million estimated in 201617.
The college education, which received Rs. 4.5 billion last year, has been allocated Rs. 5 billion in the current fiscal year. The ongoing schemes include the establishment and completion of cadet colleges in Mithi, Shaheed Benazirabad, Dadu, Khairpur, Karampur, Kahirpur, Kashmore, Sukkur, Ghotki, Larkana and Jacobabad. The department does not have any new schemes.
According to the budget book, the biggest chunk of the Rs. 21.2 billion would be spent on the school education department. The total Rs. 11.2 billion allocation has been divided into Rs. 3.7 billion for elementary education, Rs. 5.08 for secondary education, Rs. 239 million for teacher education, Rs. 625 for the Sindh Education Foundation and Rs. 1.58 billion for miscellaneous schemes.
The biggest scheme introduced in the 2017-18 fiscal year for elementary schools is a solar project. A total of 12 schools will be included in the project initially, with an allocation of Rs. 40 million per school. The project will be completed by June 2020.
Thirty-one schools will be upgraded from primary to elementary level in phase one of the project, with a budget of Rs. 20 million to Rs. 50 million each, depending on the size of the school.
A major ongoing project in secondary education is the establishment of 25 English medium schools in each district, which is supposed to be completed in June 2018, with an allocation of Rs. 400 million. In the teacher’s education budget, capacity building of teachers has been added as a new scheme with an estimated cost of Rs. 40 million. Another new scheme is establishment of the Sindh Education Foundation Complex at a cost of Rs. 566 million.
However, those aware of complexities of budgetary allocations, declare the budget trends for primary and secondary education incomprehensible. They say that the secondary education budget has increased by 41%, according to the government claims, and the primary education budget decreased by 8%, which can’t make head or tail of the ups and downs of the figure.
According to the budget documents, Sindh’s education budget has gone up by an average of 17.5% since 2010, on papers. Sindh’s budget for education has octupled (increased by a factor of 8x) since 2010, according to a paper by SAHE and Alif Ailaan. But its effects are not visible anywhere in the field. Over 6.2 million children are still out-of-school in the province.
As many as 50% girls drop out of primary school, whereas 61% of girls in Sindh will never attend school.
Dr. Seema Zia, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf member of the Sindh Assembly tells Cutting Edgeat a function in Karachi that the education system in Sindh province is in a shambles. “Even the provincial administration has failed to resolve the issue of 5,000 fake schools and 5,000 fake teachers in the province,” she complains.
Another Sindh Assembly member of PTI, Samar Ali Khan, said that up to half of the population of Sindh was without schools, and not a single teacher was available in up to 47% of the schools of the province.
Nand Kumar, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s MPA, tells Cutting Edgethat the education sector had been ruined, as half of the schools in the province are still without basic facilities such as drinking water, electricity, toilets and furniture, etc.
According to Alif Ailaan’s 2016 report, despite increased allocations, Sindh has the largest overall decrease in learning scores among all four provinces.
Education campaigner, Baela Raza Jamil, a trustee at Idara-i-Taleemo-Aagahi, tells the audience at a Karachi function that increasing budgets do not necessarily indicate better utilisation of funds, especially in Sindh and Balochistan. More money without adequate reforms cannot improve education indicators, she believes.