With an aim to ensure quality education, retention of all enrolled students up to 5-16 years, 100 percent enrollment, gender parity and improvement in educational standards coupled with access to quality education, the Punjab government has earmarked an amount of Rs 42.9 billion for the education sector. According to the Annual Development Programme 2019-20 unveiled on Friday, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in its annual budget allocated Rs 3.2 billion for school education, Rs 7.3 billion for higher education, Rs 1 billion for special education and Rs 2.6 billion for literacy and non-formal education.
Under the school education head, an amount of Rs 255 million will be utilised for the provision of missing facilities in schools. According to the ADP, a large part of the allocation would be spent on the procurement of basic facilities like furniture, science labs, libraries and play ground because over 98 percent of schools have basic facilities (drinking water, electricity, boundary wall and toilet).
Similarly, a sum of Rs 350 million would be spent on the establishment of IT Labs. An amount of Rs 100 million will be utilised for the establishment of smart classrooms for teachers' training, Rs 40 million will be used for the automation of school education department's human resource management information system (SED-HRMIS), Rs 1,125 million will be spent on the completion of 590 classrooms in Faisalabad, Sargodha, Multan, Bahawalpur, Sahiwal and D.G Khan Divisions to eliminate multi-grading and overcrowding in the schools. About 2,534 additional class rooms have been completed there.
Besides other initiatives, the Punjab government has also set aside Rs 350 million for the up-gradation of schools, Rs 350 million for the reconstruction of 100 "Mehfooz Darsgahs" (dilapidated school buildings), Rs 222 million for the construction of 30 "shelter-less" school buildings, Rs 225 million for the establishment of 2,250 early child education rooms, Rs 100 million for the "Punjab action for reading habits, access and over-sight" (PARHAO) programme, Rs 50 million for the establishment of Children Library Complex in Bahawalpur, Rs 10 million for the curricular integration programmes and Rs 195 million for teachers training programmes, respectively.
Under the higher education sector, the government will establish a campus of Punjab University in Chakwal, Kohsar University in Murree, Thal University in Bhakkar and University of Mianwali. According to the document, in Phase II of the expansion of community colleges, all degree colleges having 2-year degree program will be converted into community colleges. However, some colleges will be taken up as pilot project during FY 2019-20 and accordingly program will be replicated to all colleges in phased manner.
For the improvement of infrastructure and security cover to colleges, the government allocated Rs 1,759 million for provision of missing facilities and Rs100 million for the security cover. Moreover, the government will also establish youth counseling centres in all public sector universities which will keep track of students from its enrollment till job placement. For the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC), a sum of Rs 100 million has also been allocated in the budget.
Unfortunately, the government has not paid attention to the special education sector, earmarking the same amount of Rs 1 billion like in the previous budget. According to the plan, 10 special education centres will be constructed each in Jhelum, Gujrat, Kasur, Multan, Vehari, Bahawalpur, RY Khan, Lahore, and Sheikhupura districts with an estimated cost of Rs 770 million.
With an amount of Rs 208 million, around 11 such centres will also be established in Sargodha, Muzaffargarh, Rawalpindi, Bhakkar, Gujranwala, and Sialkot, Sheikhupura, Khanewal, D.G. Khan and Layyah districts. Similarly, a sum of Rs 136 million will be utilised for the up-gradation of nine special education schools in Sargodha, Okara, Vehari, Toba Tek Singh, Layyah and Bahawalpur districts. Moreover, an awareness campaign through print and electronic media will be created among the masses with a cost of Rs 10 million while Rs 334 million has also been allocated for the provision of transport to special students of special centres.