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Pakistan's Total Education Spending Surpasses its Defense Budget

Pakistan's public spending on education has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending on education by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. Unfortunately, the education outcomes do not yet reflect the big increases in spending. Why is it? Let's examine this in some detail.

Pakistan Education Budget:

The total money budgeted for education by the governments at the federal and provincial levels has increased from Rs. 304 billion in 2010-11 to Rs. 790 billion in 2016-17,  representing an average of 17.5% increase per year since 2010.

Source: Dawn Newspaper

Private Education Spending in Pakistan:

2012 Data from UNESCO and the World Bank shows that the private spending on education is about twice as much as the monies budgeted by federal and provincial governments in Pakistan.

Private/Public Spending on Education in Selected Countries. Source:...

Education Outcomes:

UNESCO and World Bank data from 2013 shows that only 52% of Pakistani kids and 48% of Indian kids reached expected standard of reading after 4 years of school, according to the Economist Magazine. It also shows that 46% of Pakistani children dropped out of school before completing 4 years of education.

Reading Performance in Selected Countries. Source: Economist

Education and Literacy Rates:

Pakistan's net primary enrollment rose from 42% in 2001-2002 to 57% in 2008-9 during Musharraf years. It has been essentially flat at 57% since 2009 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Similarly, the literacy rate for Pakistan 10 years or older rose from 45% in 2001-2002 to 56% in 2007-2008 during Musharraf years. It has increased just 4% to 60% since 2009-2010 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Pakistan's Human Development: 

Human development index reports on Pakistan released by UNDP confirm the ESP 2015 human development trends.Pakistan’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.537— which is in the low human development category—positioning the country at 146 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2013, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.356 to 0.537, an increase of 50.7 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.25.

Pakistan HDI Components Trend 1980-2013 Source: Human Development R...

Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

Bogus Teachers in Sindh:

In 2014, Sindh's provincial education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that "a large number of fake appointments were made in the education department during the previous tenure of the PPP government" when the ministry was headed by Khuhru's predecessor PPP's Peer Mazhar ul Haq. Khuhro was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying that "a large number of bogus appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff had been made beyond the sanctioned strength" and without completing legal formalities as laid down in the recruitment rules by former directors of school education Karachi in connivance with district officers during 2012–13.

Ghost Schools in Balochistan:

In 2016, Balochistan province's education minister Abdur Rahim Ziaratwal was quoted by Express Tribune newspaper as telling his provincial legislature that  “about 900 ghost schools have been detected with 300,000 fake registrations of students, and out of 60,000, 15,000 teachers’ records are unknown.”

Absentee Teachers in Punjab:

A 2013 study conducted in public schools in Bhawalnagar district of Punjab found that 27.5% of the teachers are absent from classrooms from 1 to 5 days a month while 3.75% are absent more than 10 days a month. The absentee rate in the district's private schools was significantly lower. Another study by an NGO Alif Ailan conducted in Gujaranwala and Narowal reported that "teacher absenteeism has been one of the key impediments to an effective and working education apparatus."

Political Patronage:

Pakistani civilian rule has been characterized by a system of political patronage that doles out money and jobs to political party supporters at the expense of the rest of the population. Public sector jobs, including those in education and health care sectors, are part of this patronage system that was described by Pakistani economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the man credited with the development of United Nation's Human Development Index (HDI) as follows:

"...every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together." 


Summary:

Education spending in Pakistan has increased at an annual average rate of 17.5% since 2010. It has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. However, the school enrollment and literacy rates have remained flat and the human development indices are stuck in neutral.  This is in sharp contrast to the significant improvements in outcomes from increased education spending seen during Musharraf years in 2001-2008. An examination of the causes shows that the corrupt system of political patronage tops the list. This system jeopardizes the future of the country by producing ghost teacher, ghost schools and absentee staff to siphon off the money allocated for children's education. Pakistani leaders need to reflect on this fact and try and protect education from the corrosive system of political patronage networks.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Reading and Math Performance in Pakistan vs India

Myths and Facts on Out-of-School Children

Who's Better For Pakistan's Human Development? Musharraf or Politic...

Corrosive Effects of Pakistan's System of Political Patronage

Development of Pakistan's Human Capital

Asian Tigers Brought Prosperity; Democracy Followed

Views: 89

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 22, 2017 at 4:32pm

Should we double the education budget, or seek 100pc literacy?....Contd. 
AHMAD ALI | NADIA NAVIWALAUPDATED JUN 07, 2017 01:47PM
Pakistan has doubled its budget in recent years, but enrollment has stagnated. As a result of the inefficient use of funds, access to quality education for children across the country stands compromised.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1335342


In recent years, the federal and provincial governments have undertaken numerous reforms with varying levels of success. Despite their efforts, a lot remains to be done to get kids into school and improve learning in the classrooms.

To address these educational challenges, the efficient and effective use of the available budget for education is key.

Note: The defence budget does not include military pensions, the cost of the nuclear programme (estimated at $747 million by the Stimson Center), or military operations in FATA.



Since 2010, education has been a provincial responsibility. Hence, Pakistan's education budget is derived by summing up the federal and individual provincial budgets.

Provinces have allocated 17pc to 24pc of their budgets for education in 2016-17. (The provincial budgets for 2017-18 will be released in the coming weeks).

The ‘current budget’ is for salaries and operational costs (non-salary), whereas the ‘development budget’ is for the construction and rehabilitation of schools. Recent history suggests that provinces tend to under spend on development and non-salary budgets, but overspend on salaries, so that they end up utilising most of the education budget.

Unesco recommends that countries disburse 15pc to 20pc of their budgets on education. The global average is 14pc. Compared to its total national budget, Pakistan spends 13pc.


In Pakistan's case, this spending amounts to 2.83pc of the GDP on education. According to Alif Ailaan, an additional Rs400 billion on education is needed this year to increase spending to 4pc of GDP, bringing the education budget to Rs1.2 trillion.

Cutting a federal programme or collecting more taxes may help Pakistan towards that target. Cutting a federal programme or collecting more taxes may help Pakistan towards that target, but the dilemma of solving the education crisis will persist.

While Pakistan has doubled its budget and brought it closer to military spending, enrollment rates have stagnated.

Parents will send their kids to a private school, charging a few hundred rupees a month, if they can afford it. Nearly 40pc of students in Pakistan go to private schools. Their parents spend as much as the government does on education and tuition. If we add what Pakistani parents spend on education, Pakistan’s education spending exceeds 4pc of the GDP.

Children are out of school in Pakistan because they get so little out of going to school. Teachers are either absent, or present, but not teaching.

The 2015 report of the independent Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) finds that only 44pc of third graders in rural schools (public and private) can read a sentence in Urdu. Of those who stay in school through fifth grade, only 55pc can read a story in Urdu.

It is a similar story for science at a grade four level. In 2006, 67pc of students scored below average in the National Education Assessment System (NEAS) assessment of fourth grade science. The situation further deteriorated in 2014, when the most recent iteration of the NEAS assessment divulged that 79pc of students had scored below average.

The majority of children aged five to nine in Pakistan are in school. That’s 17 out of 22 million kids, according to the National Education Management System. Improving literacy and numeracy rates for them is our best shot at convincing the parents of Pakistan’s five million out-of-school children aged five to nine that school is worth it.

Private school teachers are paid $25 to $50 per month. Government school teachers are paid $150 to $1,000 per month, according to a paper by SAHE and Alif Ailaan. Government school teachers have more education and training than private school teachers.

In light of the difference in teachers' salaries, private schools spend less than half of what the government does per child. However, according to LEAPS, children who go to private schools are one and a half to two grades ahead of those in government schools, depending on the subject.

The danger of increasing the budget without a plan is that it could all go into salaries for non-performing teachers, as has happened in Sindh.

Sindh’s budget has octupled (increased by a factor of 8x) since 2010.

Meanwhile the salary budget has gone up 12 times.

Pakistan is also inefficient at spending money set aside for building schools. The “development budget” that is allocated for this purpose goes unspent year after year.

Pakistan is under-performing even at its current budget levels. The solution is not dramatic budget increases, but making sure the budget we have is translating into schools where children are learning.

Instead of asking the government to double the budget, we should ask them to double the efforts for improving quality of learning for children who have been in school for years.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 26, 2017 at 5:41pm

#Pakistan's #Punjab province acts to improve #science content and correct #history in new revised school #textbooks. #education
by Pervez Hoodbhoy. https://www.dawn.com/news/1372660


The new books are cleanly printed on paper of decent quality, typographical errors are infrequent, and coloured cartoons show smiling girl children in class. Earlier textbooks typically showed docile boys facing grim-faced elderly teachers. My heart gladdened at suggested science experiments that are both interesting and doable. And, instead of beating the tired old drum of Muslim scientists from a thousand years ago, one now sees a genuine attempt to teach actual science — how plants grow and breathe, objects move, water makes droplets or freezes, etc.

On the history front one feels instant relief. Pakistan’s date of birth has thankfully been set at 1947 and away from 712 — the year Arab imperial conqueror Mohammed bin Qasim set foot in Sindh. Schoolbooks during Gen Ziaul Haq’s years contained this claim and no subsequent government dared to reset the clock. Astonishingly, one book frankly admits that Muslims had fought against other Muslims and ascribes the Mughal Empire’s downfall after Emperor Aurangzeb to his quarrelling sons rather than eternally scheming Hindu Rajputs.

But here’s the wonder of wonders: an Urdu translation of Quaid-i-Azam’s famous speech of Aug 11, 1947, has finally found its way into at least one social studies book! This declares that religion is a matter for the individual citizen and not of the state. The speech had hitherto been kept hidden for fear of polluting students’ minds and weakening the two-nation theory. Whether it will actually be covered in Matric examinations is difficult to say; if not then students and their teachers won’t take it seriously.

The older curriculum helped create a militant, intolerant mindset. A generation later, Pakistan saw jihad-obsessed youngsters emerging even from mainstream schools. Willing to kill and be killed, they are now everywhere and have to be crushed with Islamic-sounding operations like Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad (for which great credit is claimed). Terrorist networks of students and teachers that target policemen, soldiers, and ordinary citizens have been discovered within many colleges and universities.

The eventual revamping of Punjab’s school textbooks owes to a belated realisation that thousands of Pakistani lives were needlessly lost to militancy fuelled by hate materials in textbooks. Many years will be needed for the new books to produce a more enlightened, less xenophobic generation. This welcome step needed to be taken sooner rather than later. I have no knowledge of the blacked-out province of Balochistan but Punjab’s bold move has not been matched by other provinces.

Sindh remains frozen. Its education ministry and the Sindh Textbook Board have long set the highest standards of laziness, depravity and stupidity. An earlier analysis of STB’s science books was published in this newspaper two years ago. It has had zero effect; matters are just as grim there today as then.

Those who rule Sindh continue to stifle education. Sindh could have outraced Punjab by taking advantage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment which frees the provinces from the federal diktat. Instead, secretaries of education in Sindh who worked to improve things were defeated and shunted out. Sindh’s misfortune has been the ideology-free money-grabbing PPP which oversees a system based upon patronage and unlimited corruption.

With KP’s cleaner administration one expected better. The earlier ANP government had considerably softened textbooks in KP. But after Imran Khan’s PTI entered into an alliance with the Jamaat-i-Islami (and now possibly with arch-conservative Maulana Samiul Haq), there was drastic backpedaling....

Comment by Riaz Haq 23 hours ago

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) ranks first among eight Pakistani territories with respect to the provision of quality education, according to the Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017 released by Alif Ailaan, an education campaign, on Thursday.

AJK is followed by Islamabad Capital Territory, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) ranks fifth on the list. Sindh and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have fallen to seventh and eighth positions, respectively, as Balochistan jumped two places from last year's rankings to sixth position.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1376593

According to Alif Ailaan, the education index covers retention from primary to middle and middle to high schools, learning among students and gender parity.

"The 2017 rankings show that while certain parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab have made marked improvements in school infrastructure, the pace of progress in Sindh, Balochistan and Fata remains a concern," the report noted.

It also highlighted that "authorities continue to prioritise school infrastructure at the expense of what happens in classrooms."

Soon after the report was released, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan tweeted: "Alif Ailaan has put out these amazing figures on District Education Rankings for 2017. Nine of the 10 top districts are from KP; only 1 from Punjab. In same survey for 2016, nine of top 10 were from Punjab; none from KP. A great achievement by PTI govt in KP in critical field of education."

However, seemingly validating the concern raised by Alif Ailaan, Khan chose to highlight the "primary school infrastructure scores" instead of overall education scores. Under the latter measure, only one KP district, Haripur — which is placed at the top of the rankings — is among the top 10. Five AJK districts and four districts from Punjab make up the remaining list.

According to the rankings, Faisalabad is Punjab's best performing district for the year while Karachi West (ranked 14 in the country) is the top-ranked district in Sindh.

In Balochistan, the provincial capital is top-ranked (ranked 45 in Pakistan) while Awaran is the worst performing district for the year. Awaran is also ranked at 137 in the country, two places above Sindh's lowest-ranked district for the metric, Sujawal.

"Strides to improve primary school infrastructure in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are demonstrated by the fact that their lowest ranked district is Shangla at 62," the report highlighted.

Punjab and KP also dominate the "middle school infrastructure scores", with two top districts for the metric being Malakand and Swabi, while the next eight are from Punjab.

The rankings also reveal that a lot of school-going children are out of schools because of a lack of schools above the primary level, confirming previous concerns by the campaign on education.

"For every four primary schools in Pakistan, there is only one school above primary level. This means that most children who pass Class 5 do not have schools to continue their education. The large out of school population of the country is a direct product of this failure."

The report said that the disparities between districts within a province reflect the "failure of programming at the provincial level."

In a stark reminder about the gender gap prevalent in the country, the report revealed "there are more than 55 districts in Pakistan where the total number of girls enrolled in high schools is less than one thousand."

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