With allocation of Rs202bn, education budget up by 24pc

KARACHI:06 June:From Rs163.7 billion last year, the Sindh government increased the education budget for 2017-18 by a massive 24 percent, raising it to Rs202.2 billion.
While revealing the education budget for the upcoming financial year on Monday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah observed that critics may say that the increase appears to be largely driven by the higher salary component.
However, he claimed that increase in the non-salary component of the education sector was much higher and had been increasing over the past few years.

Quoting former president of the United States, Franklin D Roosevelt, the CM said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

Murad claimed that in this day and age where extremist ideologies and terrorist threats from without and within running rife in our society, education is our only hope.

Only education can ultimately protect us from a bleak future of hatred, bigotry and separatism, he observed.

“If we are to prevail as a fair, just and emancipated people, we must invest heavily in our schools and our teachers.”

The chief minister expressed that there was a need to take a good look at the curriculum being taught in schools and ensure it is free from extremist ideas. He said we must train our teachers so that they genuinely promote inquisitiveness and curiosity in our children from the outset, such that our future generation comprises of thinkers and innovators in every field of inquiry.

Grants for universities

Further expanding on the education budget, the CM Sindh, the grants for universities and education institutions have been kept at Rs5 billion.

The CM mentioned that during the current financial year Rs17.230 billion were allocated from the Annual Development Programme for the education sector.

Murad informed Assembly members that 48 important development schemes were completed during the ongoing financial year, and that for enhancing the coordination of the education sector’s administration, the department was bifurcated into two divisions.

He shared that 150 school buildings were constructed for schools functioning without any shelter, whereas 50 buildings were constructed to upgrade existing primary schools to middle schools.

Around 275 buildings of primary, elementary, secondary and higher secondary schools were renovated and rehabilitated.

The chief minister mentioned that Cadet College, Gadap had been completed at a cost of Rs1.5 billion and additional infrastructure facilities have been provided to the Cadet College, Petaro and Cadet College, Sanghar.

Construction of as many as 23 school buildings in district Sukkur and Khairpur had been completed through USAID funded Sindh Basic Education Programme, while 50 schemes will be completed in the next financial year, he added.

The CM further observed that 10,000 youths were provided training under the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Human Resource Research and Development Board, whereas 39 institutions were rehabilitated by the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Trainings to improve their capacity, through World Bank assisted Sindh Skill Development Project.

He also claimed that textbooks worth Rs2 billion were provided to students free of cost. “Through fair and transparent process, 23 higher secondary schools have been outsourced to reputed private organisations under the public-private partnership mode, whereas to encourage female participation an amount of Rs1.5 billion has been spent on stipends.”

He further claimed that funds of Rs1 billion meant for School Management Committees were released and utilised and Rs2 billion has been spent on School Infrastructure Development.

He added that consolidation grant of Rs1.17 bullion for school was provided during the current fiscal for provision of missing and additional facilities.

The CM further added that major interventions are expected to be completed during the next financial year which includes, the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Sakrand, in Shaheed Benazirabad at a cost of Rs1.1 billion.

He added that Quaid-e-Awam University of Engineering Science and Technology’s constituent college at Larkana would be completed at a cost of Rs2.6 billion, whereas development of NED University’s departments of food engineering and ancillary infrastructure would also be completed in the upcoming financial year.

The Sindh CM further announced that in the next year, various important schemes such as rehabilitation, development of existing infrastructure and basic facilities at the University of Sindh, in Jamshoro, at a cost of Rs151 million, and phase-I of strengthening infrastructure (replacement of water and sewerage networks) of the University of Karachi at a cost of Rs129 million, would be rolled out.

Murad maintained that Rs120 million have been allocated for strengthening of key science laboratories in government high schools at taluka levels across the province, and Rs131 million for development of Dawood University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, had also been allocated in the annual budget.

Cash rewards

In his speech, the CM also claimed of introducing a reward system whereby Rs100,000 will be awarded to each student who secures an A-1 grade in intermediate and matriculation exams; for the purpose Rs750mn have been earmarked.

“It is equally important to make our examination systems transparent. During this year, we have taken steps to identify and eradicate the cheating mafia in different cities of Sindh. We will further strengthen the system so our meritorious students can repose their trust in our interventions and reap benefits to secure their future education.”

Endowment Fund

Announcing allocation of Rs1 billion for endowment fund, Murad said establishment of the fund for colleges and universities is among the major initiatives taken in the education sector.

“The fund aims to provide financial assistance to students, whereas an amount of Rs1 billion has been kept for free registration and board examinations at all levels of education for students of public sector institutions.”

Sindh Education Foundation

Commending efforts of the Sindh Education Foundation towards increasing the quality of education for some of the most under privileged areas of the province, the CM claimed that the foundation is serving almost 500,000 students in 2,100 schools across Sindh.

For the next fiscal, “We plan to increase its outreach to 650,000 students through a network over 2,400 schools. The foundation has enhanced the number of schools and students at post-primary level,” he added.

“Around 80,000 students of 400 elementary and secondary schools are being served. The foundation also has launched ‘Adolescent and Adult Learning Programme’ for the less-privileged deprived of education in their early years of life.”

The SEF he mentioned has initiated a ‘Teach for Change’ programme through which young graduates from reputed institutions are encouraged to teach in schools located in lower income localities. The CM informed the House, that the provincial government has been providing monetary support to the SEF and for the next year the government intends to provide Rs8.08 billion to the foundation - an increase of seven percent from the current financial year. Also, construction of SEF Complex will also start at a cost of Rs145 million, Murad concluded.The news.