60pc Govt Schools Lack Basic Facilities
25 July, 2006
By Siddiq Sajid
Despite a lapse of five years, the government has not been able to implement the president’s Rs55.5 billion Education Sector Reforms (ESR) programme.
The programme was started in 2001 on the directives of President Gen Pervez Musharraf but still more than 60 per cent government schools lack basic facilities like boundary walls, clean drinking water, electricity, latrines and buildings.
According to the data complied by the education ministry, during the last five years, the ministry could spend only Rs4.42 billion out of Rs55.5 billion.
This amount was given to provinces and districts to revamp education infrastructure of all 147,439 primary, middle, high and higher secondary schools in the country.
The data of Pakistan School Statistics 2005 that was presented to the Senate Standing Committee on Education a few days back and is available with weekly Pulse shows that there are 147,439 primary, middle, high and higher secondary schools in the country, including FANA and FATA. Out of these, the number of primary schools is 123,039, middle schools are 14,559; 8,943 are high schools and 898 are higher secondary schools.
At present, 61,107 schools do not have a boundary wall, 65,921 are without drinking water facility, 103,650 are without electricity, 79,290 have no latrines and 18,472 schools do not have a building.
These figures are enough to expose the performance of the provincial government’s programme "Parha Likha Punjab". In Punjab there are 56,233 schools out of which 26,902 do not have a boundary wall, 12,536 are without drinking water, 38,414 have no electricity, 31,502 are without latrine and 4,301 schools do not have a building.
In the last five years, the education ministry was given Rs160 billion (2.7 per cent of the GDP) and this did not include the amount fixed for ESR. Even then the state of government education institutions is deplorable.
Isn’t the government supposed to take action against those officers of the ministry and provincial governments who had failed to spend Rs55.5 billion on a programme that was approved and initiated by President Gen Pervez Musharraf?
But the departments concerned have failed to deliver which can be gauged from our literacy rate (53 per cent) which is the lowest compared to other south and west Asian countries.
Sources told weekly Pulse that there were also a number of ghost schools in the country whose teachers were getting salaries from the national exchequer. The mafia of corrupt officials sitting in federal and provincial education departments is looting public money, they added.
They said the main reason for the failure of the ESR is differences between the education ministry, provincial and district governments.
The provinces want the federal education ministry to give them their due share from Rs55.5 billion instead of providing the money in installments. On the other hand the ministry has set criteria under which money would be released based on the performance of the provincial governments in the implementation of ESR. But the provinces are not ready to accept this due to which the ministry only released Rs4.42 billion in the last five years.
According to Minister of State for Education Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, the ministry would provide Rs1,050 million under the ESR to provinces, district and federal institutions during the fiscal year 2006-07 provided all concerned submitted the implementation plan.
This year the government has allocated over Rs22 billion for the education sector, including higher education, and Rs6.5 billion for basic education and college education projects. In the past, the government failed to achieve the goals and this year there seem to be no sign of improvement in the education sector because the real problem has yet not been solved.
If the government is interested to revamp the education system, it should remove differences between the federal and provincial departments.