Apr 26 - May 2, 2010

Public education sector in Pakistan is under funded since less than two per cent of GDP is currently being spent on this sector vital for human development. When the present PPP-led government came into power, only 1.8 per cent of the GDP was allocated for the education sector by the previous government. However, the government has planned to increase budgetary allocation for education and health to the level of up to five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the next three years.

The government intends to focus on improving literacy rate and quality of education.

In the developed countries about US $100,000 to 150,000 are spent on education of each student per year, whereas in Pakistan only Rs500 to 600 are invested on a student annually.

Pakistan is besieged by material constraints such as well-constructed and well-furnished school buildings and classrooms, resources, well-designed curriculum, teachers' experience and a manageable class size. And non-material factors include lack of vision and goals, a learning environment, professional leadership and pupil rights and responsibilities. These factors are affecting effectiveness of our educational institutions. Pakistan has been struggling for the promotion of literacy for the last six decades, but is consistently burdened by the population growth, poverty, health, and socio-cultural malpractices.

Educationists are of the firm views that desirable results in education sector could not be achieved without enhancing budgetary allocations for education sector.

They said that ignorance and illiteracy are the biggest threat to the country and fighting these menaces was collective responsibility of all. Illiteracy is one of the major reasons of extremism which has to be removed by improving literacy rate and imparting quality education at grass roots level in the country, they asserted.

According to them, significance of education in the present times cannot be undermined, as education is key for the development of personality and one's social and national life. In fact, keeping in consideration the socioeconomic conditions of the country the concept of education takes a supreme position if progress is to be achieved.

There are over 64,000 schools in Punjab out of which 1006 are non-functional. If we want to achieve desirable human development outcomes, mindsets of incumbent officials need to be changed.

The Punjab education foundation is taking over 1006 non-functional schools of the government of Punjab out of which 107 schools would be taken initially for phase one of the project, which is an encouraging step.

Under this program, free textbooks would also be provided and the needy students who have to drop out in the middle of the educational career due to financial worries would at least have the tension of arranging the books released.

Under the program, the government has ensured Rs350 per student for elementary classes and Rs400 per student for secondary classes. The whole project becomes very significant when the question of legality of the schools' adoption arises whether the schools under consideration will be the property of the government of the Punjab or will be owned by the PEF. This is a very crucial factor.

According to a Gilani Research Foundation's survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, more than half of all Pakistanis (60 per cent) believe both higher education (HE) and having special skills (SS) are important for a good job and income.

According to the survey, 25 per cent believe only higher education is important whereas 13 per cent believe special skills matter. The remaining 2 per cent gave no response.

The findings of the survey reveal that a proportionally higher percetage of respondents from higher income groups believe that to have a good source of income (job) both matter a lot. No country can attain progress and prosperity without making adequate investment in education of its people.

Experts believe that it is unfortunate that business and industry related disciplines are not offering required support. It is necessary that education in business and industry related disciplines must have collaborative support of the corporate sector. Instead of looking for readymade human resources, the corporate sector needs to come forward for strong linkage with educational institutions. Such cooperation can lead to innovation which is necessary for a change.

According to Senior Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab Sirdar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, provision of quality education to the people is the top priority of the present government.

He said Danish schools will prove to be a milestone in the development of education sector and equipping the students of backward & far-flung areas with the latest requirements of education. He said that with the setting up of these impressive and inspiring institutions, the people having less resources will realize that they have as much right over the resources of the country as elitists have. He said that Danish schools will not only be the centers of education but will also be a masterpiece of architecture.

Sirdar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa said that on one hand Danish schools will provide quality educational facilities in far flung and backward areas and on the other will also be helpful in elimination of extremism.