Education must not be ignored in the next budget

Published: May 30, 2012

During the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, educational expenditures have decreased significantly. PHOTO: GULFAM MUSTAFA

Recently, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced the government’s top priorities for the next budget. Electricity and employment top the list. Although this is all good news, I would like to ask our premier, what about education? 

Without a doubt, the electricity crisis is the most important issue Pakistan is facing right now. The country is suffering immeasurably due to shortage of electric power and our economic wheel has stopped. However, this issue is as old as our current government.

Four years have gone by, but our government has yet to take serious notice of the crisis. As elections are expected during the upcoming year, the ruling party wishes to get public support by utilising such strategies. Though it is too late, the public will warmly welcome any step taken towards ending their misery.

However, what greatly surprises me is how our prime minister has ignored education as a budget priority during his press releases. To me, this issue is the most pressing one the country is facing.

The current literacy rate of Pakistan is estimated to be 49.9% – reading and writing being the criteria. Pakistan ranks 185th out of 204 countries in terms of our literate population. Literacy among female members of our nation is a dismal 36%. Pakistan has been spending roughly around 2% of the budget on education. During the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, educational expenditures have decreased significantly.

During 2008, 2.15% of budget was fixed for educational expenditures. This amount decreased during the next three years and a similar signal has been passed by Prime Minister Gilani for this year’s budget too.

I don’t think anyone can deny the importance of education to the growth and development of a nation. However, the complacent attitude of our current government towards this issue is, indeed, troubling.

To achieve universal primary education was the second Millennium Development Goal which Pakistan promised the international community. Pakistan committed to raise its literacy rate to 88% by the year 2015 while ensuring 100% net primary enrolment ratio. 2015 is only three years away and we are still lagging far behind our goal. The current literacy rate of Pakistan is 49.9%, as mentioned above; this is still 38.1% short of our committed literacy rate.

Moreover, we have failed to ensure 100% net primary enrolment rate. This lies at a disappointing 52% according to a report by the World Bank. Despite huge foreign funds and in-land revenue, the country remains in the low human development category; Pakistan ranks 145 out of 187 countries in Human Development Index, 2011.

The government has launched various campaigns like Universal Primary Education and Universal Secondary Education. However, these campaigns are useless unless appropriate funds are allocated for educational expenditures.

There are many areas of Pakistan where children cannot access schools and no educational facilities available. Similarly, the quality of education at government-run schools in itself is a question mark. Many ghost schools exist in government records and nobody takes action despite knowledge about this.

Our government has taken no steps towards changing the mind-set of people in remote areas who consider education useless or even a threat to their ‘ghairat’.

Depriving girls of an education is a huge problem too, but it is ignored by the government. They have also failed to adequately train and develop teachers; corporal punishment remains a major reason behind the high rate of school-dropouts.

In the light of all above mentioned problems as well as the international commitments, our government must allocate an appropriate portion of budget towards educational development of the country.

Aristotle once said,

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.

If we really want to feed of this sweet fruit in the form of a developed Pakistan, we must invest in the future of our children to turn them into great leaders, scientists, and valuable citizens.

If we continue to ignore the crucial issue of education during resource allocation, we will never be able to progress.

Read more by Gulfam here or follow him on Twitter @egulfam

Gulfam.Mustafa

Gulfam Mustafa

Editor of the Weekly Mission who tweets @egulfam

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • ad

    Really Nice Topic Selection bro Keep it up Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    What is he talking about?Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    Point to be notedRecommend

  • Ali

    The government breaks promises (and that’s the nice way of putting it!). Is that news to anyone?
    The amount of money the government spends on foreign trips, building parliamentary lodges for the Nawabs in parliament, bullet proof cars, handing out laptops for students to keep their facebook pages upto date, ooops I meant study and other unjustified expenses is huge.

    If that money was put aside for primary and secondary education that would knock atleast a few percentage points off our illiteracy rates. Recommend

  • Zara Mazhar

    Spot on!

    Employement might be a present solution but education is a long time solution – not just a solution but a neccesity too! It’ll demolish several of our current issues including the much danger ones like target killing, honor killings, acid attacks and what not. Lets be honest, such stuff does not happen in the educated classes of our society.

    Education please. And yes with education, we do need electricity. Literally nobody can study in excruciating heat and no light.
    Basic needs!Recommend

  • sars

    Agreed.
    I guess since most of our lawmakers are relatively uneducated (and the educated ones also are dubiously so), its easy to understand why their priorities lie in the wrong directions. Electricity is directly related to factory and mill output and thats where most of these guys earn a living from.
    Until we have better politicians we wont have better education.

    The answer is not to give 50 000 jobs to jiyalas in ghost schools who basically do farming for a living and get pocket money from the government. It will be a long haul and only motivated and clean opeople can change the corrupt system.Recommend

  • http://www.uet.edu.pk MUHAMMAD ASGHAR FAREED

    well said .I 100% agree with u.Recommend

  • ….

    Education is obviously kept out deliberately, if people were well educated they would get rid of all the status quo parties in a matter of a few weeks. The government of Pakistan cannot afford for people to know what goes on in the world. Nor can it afford for religion to shake off the death grip it has on society, which would be a direct consequence of better education.
    This phenomenon is even in our history; Zia Ul Haq and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto turned public school textbooks into jokes full of base lies for their own agendas.Recommend

  • rehman

    good topicRecommend

  • Subah

    Good work. But it is going to be read by the concerned with ‘blind eyes’ and heard with ‘deaf ears’ with empty heads with FAKE degrees. Yet, keep going.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    The percentage for education in the budget seems to be shrinking every year under this civilian democratically elected government.Recommend

  • Hamad

    1 By age group of fewer than 60, in Pakistan we don’t have any notable Theoretical Physicist.Quaid-E-Azam university Physics department is top most in Pakistan, even they don’t have any average level theoretical physics of age under 60. When we don’t have any single notable theoretical physicist in Pakistan than how can we expect good PhD Thesis.
    2In,Abdus Salam School of Math Sciences,GC Universit(http://www.sms.edu.pk/faculty1.php)
    We only have good faculty in mathematical physics in Lahore. But I got shocked when I met in Moscow State university (Russia) one of the Prof Dimitry A. Leites from that school (he left the school just after three month). He told me that “he has bitter experience of teaching in Pakistan. As he started course in Representation theory for PhD students. And those students have not solved the home work problems (that one can solve by five minute thinking) and complaint to Dr. A. D. Raza Choudary(Director General) that Prof Dimitry gave us very hard problems as home work.” Prof Dimitry Leiets told me as PhD student of Math considered as cream of all the student. If this is the situation of top PhD students than what will be the situation of average Pakistani students. In whole Pakistan you will not find the course of Representation theory in any university of Pakistan. But in India has many notable representation theoriest. Prof Dimitry introduces that course in Pakistan but not a single Pakistani student has passed that course.
    4. And One the Prof from NUST mathematical school (http://camp.nust.edu.pk/people/) from Russia told me that” He was in one of PhD thesis presentation by student of Prof A Qadir. That was very week thesis; if that thesis was presented in Russia by Russian student we will throw that thesis by window and will not accept at all. He also added but if some of foreign student present such thesis in Russia or any other European universities we usually accept such thesis. Because usually foreign come by there own funding. So we just gave them degree and send that student back to their home country and forget him at all. So many Pakistani Students are doing PHD in Europe by HEC funding however there research is not as per level of European students. And teacher has not bothered for foreign students. They thought that just give them degree and send them back to Pakistan and forget them.
    In Pakistan we don’t have courses in Number Theory ,representation theory and String theory in any universities with may be 1 exception.
    A new connection with physics is providing a good deal of the driving force
    toward speculation in mathematics. Recently there has been a flurry of mathematical-type activity in physics, under headings like “string theory”, “conformal fieldtheory”, “topological quantum field theory”, and “quantum gravity”. In large partthis has been initiated by individuals trained as theoretical high-energy physicists.But In Pakistan we don’t have access to math courses for physics students. In QAU and PU we don’t appreciate students from physics to go for math courses.Hope you will like it!Recommend

  • gp65

    ” The current literacy rate of Pakistan is 49.9%, as mentioned above; this is still 38.1% short of our committed literacy rate.”

    The link provided refers to 2005. So the data is outdated. The current literacy maybe more (or even less if the reduced budget is not adequate to cover the rapidly expanding population). Still you can quote a link that provides 7 year old data and refer to it as current.

    The ranking in that link is even more suspect. For example India’s slitracy is as per 2001 census when in fact there has been one more census in 2011. To use such an outdates source as your primary data reference is poor research.

    I agree with your overall point that education is not getting the importance it deserves. Recommend

  • maz3tt

    having raja pervaiz ashraf or naveed qamar as the minister , it seems that electricity is rock bottom in the priorities set by the government.Recommend

  • Sane

    @writer
    In a country when a Chief Minister says ‘Degree tou degree hoti a Asli ho ya jali’. And people with fake degrees are parliamentarians. And whole government is out to protect those parliamentarians. Do you expect change in their attitude by adding budget for education. Things shall definitely change but on the declining side.Recommend

  • Ahmed Khan

    One thing must be noted here. Since the passage of the 18th amendment and the grant of the NFC award education has become a provincial subject. Therefore this allocation is a small part of the total funds spent on education and, particularly for primary and secondary school education it is irrelevant.

    The article is therefore misleading and a correction is requested, that would include expenditure on education by provincial governments so as to provide a more complete picture of the situation.Recommend

  • Rabiya

    Very informative, Good Job :)Recommend

  • Mehreen Shah

    Very good article. Government should spend more on education.Recommend

  • Ishfaq Ahmed

    Government is not serious for development of the country. They just want to rule and earn money for themselves. So, they will never allocate more funds for education.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    it is not about allocation of funds for education … my dear fellow citizens, it is all the matter of honestly putting where it is required … Recommend