APPSF sends pre-budget proposals on education to the President, Prime Minister

An educational pre-budget 2021-22 seminar was held under All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) presided by Central President Mirza Kashif Ali. Addressing with the seminar Kashif Mirza President APPSF presented recommendations for education pre-budget 2021-22, as under:

  1. The APPSF Federation recommended to Federal & Provincial governments to allocated and spend minimum 5% of GDP on education and research for schools and higher education sector in the new budget keeping in view the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and high inflation rate.
  2. That 25 percent of the budget should go to higher education and rest 75 percent be spent on schools, colleges and technical education.
  3. Government should announce tax amnesty and exemption for 5-year for investing in education sector, so that new schools, colleges, universities, technical and vocational institutes can be established.
  4. Unless steered with a purpose, the rapid advance of science and technology may widen inequities, exacerbate social fragmentation and accelerate resource depletion. That the government spending on school education remained less than $100, and on higher education remained less than $250 per student per year. We’ve to fix and enhance heavy budget for research, science and technology.
  5. That the education sector cannot sustain due to COVID, without a significant increase in funding, therefore, an announcement of a special relief package in the up-coming budget should be made.
  6. That in the last five years, the recurring budget remained stagnant and faced block allocations, so the recurring budget should be raised for education sector and be saved from the block allocations.
  7. APPSF also recommended for education emergency, allocation of funds for indigenous COVID-19 vaccination production and up-gradation of laboratories, announcement of special relief package for the education sector amid COVID-19 pandemic.
  8. APPSF also recommended to allocate special budget to vaccinate all the children and teachers on priority basis, and also to provide free laptops, net facilities along with devices to the students, to avoid any further educational loss in future.
  9. That the government should announce a relief package and interest free loans for teachers and low-cost private schools, that the continuous closure of private schools across the country has hurt owners as almost 10,000 schools across the country have been shut down and around 700,000 teachers have become unemployed.
  10. A budget should be fixed to eliminate menace of child labour, that according to UNICEF, the closure of schools during the coronavirus pandemic had proven to be counter-productive while as many as 40 million children in Pakistan were affected due to schools’ shut down, and most of them children were compelled for child labour.
  11. The establishment of special education fund, provision of internet devices to the students, provision for establishing new schools, colleges and universities with proper qualified faculty and funding, promoting culture of intelligent classrooms, sufficient funding for continuous faculty development programs and paying special attention towards social sciences and skill-based learning were also among the recommendations.
  12. APPSF also vowed and ready to undertake collaborative efforts to support and assist the government by adopting an innovative approach to overcome challenges being faced by the education sector.
  13. APPSF recommended the expansion of matric-tech programs in schools across Pakistan to provide technical training at matric level.
  14. At least 25 percent of all schools and colleges should be converted to high level technical schools and colleges with foreign collaboration to ensure high quality skilled workers, and 25,000 students should be sent on scholarships for PhD to top 500 universities abroad annually to pursue emerging technologies.
  15. APPSF further suggested major national programmes for technology parks, promotion of innovation & entrepreneurship, funding for knowledge economy task force projects in emerging areas of industrial and agricultural importance, promotion of high tech manufacturing, value added exports through appropriate policies and incentives.
  16. The APPSF further recommended, involvement of stakeholders and end users across Pakistan in policy formulation process, equal opportunities of scholarships, research, grants & faculty training for public & private sector, one window facility for issuance of registration, NOC & accreditation of academic institutions & programs in order to avoid unnecessary delays.
  17. APPSF also stressed respecting autonomy of the educational institutions, and for teaching & research community, establishment of contributory fund for payment of pensions, encouraging role of private sector in education sector, revival of indigenous scholarship program and special grants for mobility of sharing expertise, existing facilities, experience and knowledge.
  18. Pakistan’s school education outcome indicators are inadequate & are lower than those of its neighbors. Pakistan has an estimated 22.9 million children aged 5–16 years who are out of school. A sizeable budget should be fixed for the establishment of nationwide literacy centers and for the education of almost 23 million out-of-school-children. A worrying statistic for a country whose current workforce is young, mostly unskilled, and poorly prepared for productive employment. By broadening & deepening reforms, Pakistan could reach the millions of children who currently get no schooling, thereby improving participation rates in school education at all levels.
  19. There is much to be done to expand and deepen reforms to reach the millions of out-of-school children and improve participation rates in school education at all levels, particularly in the post-primary grades in middle and high and/or higher secondary schools. Targeted investments and programs will be needed to improve completion rates and learning levels.
  20. Despite these challenges, Pakistan total public spending on health, nutrition, and education is only at about 3% of gross domestic product (GDP), and in which just 2% of gross domestic product on education which is much lower than for comparable countries. Public spending on health, nutrition, and education is much lower than that of comparable countries. This is partly driven by the particularly low tax–GDP ratio in Pakistan which stands at 12.4%—one of the lowest in the world.
  21. The 2010 18th Constitutional Amendment devolved responsibility for 17 sectors, including education, from the federal government to the provincial governments in Pakistan. This was accompanied by increased funding to provincial governments from the National Finance Commission (NFC), commensurate with their increased responsibilities. However, further capacity building is required at the provincial and district levels to ensure quality service delivery along with enhanced public spending.
  22. Education became primarily a provincial responsibility in 2010, and that increased responsibility was accompanied by more funding. But capacity at the provincial and district levels needs to be improved to ensure value for money in public expenditure.
  23. Targeted investments & programs could improve completion rates, learning levels. Properly focused, reforms could reduce inequalities in education outcomes across gender, socioeconomic strata, geography, and districts.
  24. Investing in and reforming the secondary education sector and improving the quality of education and governance at all levels in Pakistan are essential to improving education outcomes.
  25. Further reforms to increase tax collections and prioritize public spending for education and health will be necessary as the structural adjustment program goes forward.
  26. These include reforms to improve post-primary access, teacher quality and management, assessment and curriculum, and governance and financing of the sector. Expanding and enhancing PPPs will play a key role, as well as strengthening mainstream government systems.
  27. A focus on reducing inequities in education outcomes across gender, socioeconomic strata, geographies, and districts will be critical if reforms are to have a substantial impact.
  28. In addition, budget execution rates, particularly in the education sector, are very low for non-salary expenditures. This is an indication of fund flow and procurement bottlenecks that need to be addressed since they constrain spending in the sector.
  29. Public–private partnerships (PPPs) can play a key role, as can strengthened mainstream Government systems.
  30. The budget call circulars should categorically mention the percentage of resources current and development for girls’ education. The federal and provincial governments should introduce a new header title in the budget classification on gender development.
  31. The provincial governments should include a separate statement with the budgetary documents, which may provide specific information about the government policy for girls’ education; policy measures to be taken for improving girls’ education in terms of resource allocation and its effective utilization, detailed break-down of the current and development budgets allocated for girls education, level-wise enrolment of girls in public schools and state of basic facilities in girls’ schools.
  32. More budget for innovative initiatives and programmes need to be introduced by the federal and provincial governments by considering the deteriorating situation in education sector, to fulfill the missing facilities and to take special measures on an urgent basis to overcome the increasing challenge of gender disparity, access and quality of education, and worsening situation of gender equity.
  33. More budget should be fixed and the governments have had more focus on enrolment drives due to which the challenge of retaining the existing enrolments and retention in schools until their education is completed.
  34. The role of parliamentarians and legislators is of critical importance for making government’s fiscal policies regarding education more responsive with technical support.
  35. Involvement of civil society can play a significant role in the education budgeting process, as it adds value and ownership to the initiatives.
  36. Advocacy efforts aforesaid the education budgeting will increase awareness among policy makers, legislators, officials and public.
  37. Budget tracking will be important to ensure the effective utilization of allocated finances and their outcomes. Currently, no institute undertakes such an exercise on a regular and institutionalized manner.
  38. The education is one of the most significant social sectors as it draws the interest of all policymakers and practitioners alike. Improvement in human capital and the quality of employable labour has a direct causal relationship with investment in the education sector.
  39. Increased & effective government spending on education sector improves social cohesion, which indirectly affects the health sector through improved nutrition, preventive care & sanitation, and the educated population has a more informed participation in public decision making.
  40. These are priorities for the country to ensure inclusive growth so that current geographic, socioeconomic, and gender disparities are not perpetuated. Some of those gaps are very wide now.

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