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A mere budget increase is insufficient to improve education in KPK

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained in the spotlight for raising the education budget yearly, showing 114 percent increase since 2013 having Rs. 136.19 billion for FY 2018-19.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained in the spotlight for raising the education budget yearly, showing a 114 percent increase since 2013 having Rs. 136.19 billion for FY 2018-19. Earlier, 98 schools were identified as non-function among which 77 were targeted to be opened by 2018 December, however, the number of non-functional schools has drastically increased to 114 by the end of 2018, as revealed by the Elementary and Secondary Education Department report in January 2019.

This decrease in the number indicates the issue of the construction of these schools to oblige voters by politicians having no feasibility assessments done. Despite the immense increase in the budget every year, it didn’t make the mare go and the budget remained under-utilized, which clearly shows the capacity of the Education Department to spend the resources effectively.” A deep concern was expressed by Tahira Kaleem- cofounder of Enlight Lab, a non-profit organization in a press release.

The report further revealed the underutilization of the budget in 11 districts including Peshawar. The closure of non-functional schools is a worrisome matter but this is intolerable to see all the politics run in the name of girls for whom education as a primary right is undermined and no proper measures have been taken by the department to increase the number of girls schools; rather they are shut down,” expressed Tahira from Enlight Lab.

Talking to the media, Operations lead in Enlight Club Shafeeq Gigyani, said, most of the budget is being spent on infrastructures and building new school buildings, which turned out to be either not-required or unregulated after construction. This budget could have been effectively utilized for providing basic facilities of clean drinking water, sanitation, and equipment for STEM education at the secondary level.

Gigyani further added, “In Pakistan literacy is defined as ‘Ability to read and understand simple text in any language from a newspaper or magazine, write a simple letter and perform a basic mathematical calculation (i.e., counting and addition/subtraction)’ on which we are still 42% behind the 100% rate. On the other hand, the globalization and emerging technological era demand STEM education and digital literacy as a primary requirement to compete as a nation in the Globalization 4.0 era.”

CEO of The Enlight lab Tahira Kaleem said on the occasion, “In the current state, girls are more behind in literacy rate than boys. The Enlight Lab demands education department save the education budget from lapsing this year and spend more on facilitating girls at the secondary level with stipends and other incentives for retaining them in institutes. Teacher training for advanced level curriculum should be made mandatory which is again a major cause of the girls’ dropout from schools,” Tahira presented her stance on girls’ education in KP.

Published in Daily Times, January 24th, 2019.