LAHORE: The private schools on the platform of All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) has presented recommendations for education pre-budget 2021-22. These recommendations were presented at an educational pre-budget 2021-22 seminar, which was addressed by APPSF Central President Mirza Kashif Ali.
The APPSF recommended to federal and provincial governments to allocate and spend a minimum of 5% of GDP on education and research for schools and the higher education sector in the new budget keeping in view the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and high inflation rate.
Schools also recommended that 25 percent of the budget should go to higher education and rest 75 percent be spent on schools, colleges and technical education, the government should announce tax amnesty and exemption for 5-year for investing in the education sector, so that new schools, colleges, universities, technical and vocational institutes can be established.
It was also purposed, 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 upcoming budget should be made. In the last five years, the recurring budget remained stagnant and faced block allocations, so the recurring budget should be raised for the education sector and be saved from the block allocations.
APPSF also recommended for education emergency, allocation of funds for indigenous COVID-19 vaccination production and up-gradation of laboratories, the announcement of special relief package for the education sector amid COVID-19 pandemic. Allocation of special budget to vaccinate all the children and teachers on a priority basis, and also to provide free laptops, internet facilities along with devices to the students, to avoid any further educational loss in future.
They demanded 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.
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 a 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.
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.
The APPSF further recommended, involvement of stakeholders and end-users across Pakistan in the 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.
APPSF also stressed respecting the autonomy of the educational institutions, and for the teaching & research community, establishment of a contributory fund for payment of pensions, encouraging the role of the private sector in the education sector, revival of the indigenous scholarship program and special grants for the mobility of sharing expertise, existing facilities, experience and knowledge.
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.
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.
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can play a key role, as can strengthen mainstream Government systems. 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.
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.
More budget for innovative initiatives and programmes need to be introduced by the federal and provincial governments by considering the deteriorating situation in the education sector, to fulfil 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.