Despite PTI’s claimed focus on uplifting the education sector in Pakistan, the government of Punjab run by the party is failing to make an impact when it comes to managing funds meant for education sector in the province.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had claimed its education agenda as being “the most ambitious” in Pakistan’s history, but its performance in the first six months of the ongoing fiscal year has been everything but ambitious. Per reports, the Punjab government has not only failed to release funds for education projects as needed, it has also failed to fully utilize the meagre amount it did release for implementing various education projects in fiscal year 2019-20.
According to the data available with Academia Magazine of the first six months (July-December) of the FY2019-20, a total of Rs 42.9 billion was allocated for development projects of four departments related to education, including the Punjab School Education Department, the Punjab Higher Education Department, the Special Education Department and the Literacy and Non-formal Basic Education Department.
Out of the total, only Rs 15.33 billion or 35.73 percent has been released until December and if this trends continues for the remaining half of the fiscal year, most of the development projects might not get completed or even initiated in Punjab. The trend across all educational departments has remained the same by and large, with only one department getting more than half of the allocation and only a single department able to utilize more than 75 percent of the released funds.
School Education Department
The Punjab School Education Department is one of the largest departments of the province, and because of this, takes the biggest chunk of the development fund. For the fiscal year 2019-20, the Punjab government allocated a total of Rs 32 billion to the department under the development head.
After the first six months of the fiscal year, the Punjab government has only been able to release Rs 11.982 billion or 37.44 percent of the total allocation. And of this, only Rs 3.752 billion or 11.72 percent of the total allocation and 31.31 percent of the released amount has been utilized by the department.
For the fiscal year 2019-20, the Punjab government allocated a total of Rs 7.3 billion for higher education for various development projects. At the end of the six months, the provincial government only released Rs 2.155 billion or 29.52 percent of the total allocation. Of this, only Rs 0.515 billion or 7.05 percent of the total allocation and 23.89 percent of the released amount has been utilized.
The Punjab Special Education Department fared better than all the other departments in getting funds, however, it did not do well with utilizing the released funds.
A total of Rs 1 billion were allocated in the budget of 2019-20 for special education and the government released Rs 0.543 billion or 54.3 percent between July and December 2019. However, only Rs 0.027 billion or 2.7 percent of the allocated amount and a mere 4.97 percent of the total released amount was utilized by the department.
For various projects for literacy, the Punjab government allocated a total of Rs 2.6 billion for the Literacy and Non-formal Basic Education under the development head.
After the first six months of the fiscal year between July and December, the Punjab government released Rs 0.65 billion or 25 percent of the total allocation. Of this, Rs 0.497 billion, or 19.11 percent, of the allocation and 76.46 percent of the released amount was utilized by the department.
With education and its quality becoming an increasingly difficult challenge for the sitting government, it is unfortunate that funds are not being released in time and, more worryingly, not being spent to the fullest to get the maximum impact.
We hope those at the helm of affairs take notice of this inefficiency, so that the results at the end of the fiscal year are something to write home about.