Decentralization: Power devolution to solve K-P’s problems, says LG minister

PESHAWAR: Expressing his concern over the alarming dropout rate at government schools, Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan said public problems can only be resolved once powers are devolved to the union council level.

Inayatullah was addressing a seminar titled ‘Education Sector Budgeting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Adequacy, Efficiency and Effectiveness. The event was organised by the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) at a local hotel on Wednesday.

Inayatullah noted women teachers in nine of 25 districts face difficulty in travelling to and from their schools as they have to traverse long distances.

Various posts for teachers had been lying vacant over the last three to four years, said Inayatullah. He added the provincial government hired teachers on the basis of the Public Service Commission tests, which were long procedures.

“If we want to solve the problems of people, we should decentralize power and empower the local administration so they can solve people’s problems in a timely manner,” said the minister.

Speaking to the audience, CGPA provincial coordinator Malik Masood shared that the literacy rate for men was 70%, while only 35% of women were educated. He added the literacy rate in rural areas stood at 49%, while it was 66% in urban centres.

According to Masood, of the 29,036 schools in K-P, only 10,511 were for girls, a mere 26%. The coordinator added 13,527 schools were constructed with just one or two rooms and were mostly run by a single teacher.

“Over 90% of the total education budget was spent on staff and teachers’ salaries and only a small amount was earmarked for development,” said Masood. The CGPA official said at most 4% of the budget was spent reconstructing schools and providing students with missing facilities.

Experts were ignored when preparing the budget and that was the reason so many questions were raised over budgetary allocations every year, added Masood.

K-P Right to Information Commissioner Kaleemullah Khan briefed participants over the newly implemented law.

He said all government institutes were now bound to provide all kinds of information to anyone demanding it within 10 to 20 days.

Kaleemullah added there was no fee and all citizens could submit their applications through email, fax or letter.

The seminar participants gave suggestions and demanded the government immediately enact an education law in the province and allocate larger chunks of the budget on development in the sector. They demanded that at least 70% of the budget be allocated for women’s education and attention be paid to girls in rural areas.