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Punjab Education Budget Share Cut Down

 Abdullah Qureshi

LAHORE: Despite overall 10.29 per cent (Rs32.2 billion) increase in the Punjab education budget for FY 2017-18 as compared to the previous year, the percentage share of the budget has been decreased to 17.51 percent from last year’s 18.61 (by 1.1 percent).

The Punjab government has allocated Rs345 billion for education (17.51 per cent) out of total Rs 1,977 billion budget outlay for 2017-18. The budget allocated for development of education is Rs74 billion. In comparison, Punjab has increased the total education budget by 10.29 per cent (Rs32.2 billion) from fiscal year 2016-17. However, for Pre & Primary Education there is a decrease by 8% and for Secondary Education by 23% over 2016-17.

The Punjab government will construct 500 new schools and ensure new classrooms and provision of missing facilities and shift 10,000 schools to solar energy.

In the development budget for schools, Rs9.56 billion has been allocated for ongoing schemes, Rs17.79 billion for new schemes and Rs26 billion for other development programmes. The Punjab government has allocated Rs3 billion for Danish School and Center of Excellence Authority, Rs7 billion for Public School Support Programme (PSSP) and Rs16 billion for Punjab Education Foundation (PEF). Punjab government also allocated 14 billion to fulfill the basic needs of schools.6.5 billion for Khadim-e-Punjab School Program. An allocation of Rs3.5 billion has been made to provide free textbooks to children in public schools of the province.

During the speech, Dr. Ayesha Ghaus said solar panels will be provided to 10,000 schools without electricity under Khadam-e-Punjab Ujala Scheme and this scheme will be launched in South Punjab. Rs 15 billion has been earmarked for the construction of classrooms and provision of missing facilities in public schools, the opening of 500 new schools is also planned in this budget. In the fiscal year, the Punjab government allocated Rs230 billion for District Education Authorities (DEAs) and an Rs14 billion was earmarked in the non-salary budget (NSB). Under voucher scheme of Punjab Education Foundation, 25 lakh students have been enrolled and three lakh more students will be enrolled in 2018 under this scheme.

Teachers’ basic pay scales upgraded with an amount of 9 billion. Primary School Teachers (PST) will be upgraded from grade 9 to 14, Elementary School Teachers from grade 14 to 15 and EST in grade 15 will get to grade 16. For those EST who are already in grade 16, they will be given two advance increments. While this facility will be provided to all SST teachers also.

Punjab Finance Minister Dr. Ayesha Ghaus Pasha announced that Rs 345 billion have been allocated for education in the province with special focus to enroll out of school children.  Dr. Pasha said the World Bank, in a recent report, had rated the initiatives of the Punjab government in the education sector better than all other provincial governments in Pakistan, adding that Punjab was also far ahead of the other provinces in the Gross Enrolment Rate for Primary education with 98 percent.During a post budget conference Punjab Education Minister for Schools Rana Mashood also praised his government’s special initiatives for education in the budget estimated for FY 2017-18. He said once again Punjab government presented a historical budget reflecting his pro public policies.

Overall the trend seen is that the Education Budget of last four years 2014-15 to 2017-18, has been steadily increased Rs 282,000 million to Rs. 345,000 million in 2017-18 with allocation for Pre & Primary Education decreasing by 8% and for Secondary Education by 23% over 2016-17.

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