Right to learn: After Salaries, Little Left For Development Work In Education

PESHAWAR: Of the total budget allocated for elementary and secondary education in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) for fiscal year 2013-14, a whopping 99% was spent on salaries and expenses of employees while a measly 1% went towards development work.

A survey conducted by Center for Government and Public Accountability (CGPA) revealed that half of the population in 13 districts of the province’s 25 districts was illiterate. These districts include Swabi, Upper Dir, Kohistan, Torghar, DI Khan, Tank, Buner, Shangla, Battagram, Bannu, Hangu, Charsadda and Lakki Marwat.

The survey report, which was released at a local hotel on Wednesday, stated the highest literary rate across the province is in Abbottabad with 86% of the men and 62% of women said to be literate. Torghar ranked the lowest with only 39% men and 7% women said to be literate. In the provincial capital, 74% men and 43% women are literate.

The report states a total 27,975 state-run schools provide education to children across the province. These include 23,073 primary schools and 4,902 secondary schools, with only 8,110 primary and 1,810 secondary schools for girls.

The condition of these schools also requires urgent attention. According to the survey, 55% of girls primary schools and 48% of boys primary schools operate out of two rooms or less. Moreover, 42% of girls primary schools and 39% of boys primary schools have two teachers or less.

The report recommends special incentives for female students in districts where literacy rate of girls is lower than boys, adding operation and maintenance budgets should be enhanced to at least 10%.

CGPA also proposes introducing a school-based budgeting model in the province where schools would be administratively autonomous and accountable for performance standards. It adds districts should be bound to allocate 40% of the district annual development programme budget to the education department under the K-P Local Government Act, 2013.

Terming primary education the backbone of the education system, CGPA proposed that its budget should be equivalent to secondary and higher education, adding each school should have its own improvement development plan. This plan should be chalked out by local community members and parent-teacher councils on the basis of school budgeting.

Speaking at the launch of the report, K-P Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan said an increase has been proposed for the upcoming budget and emphasized on the provision of educational facilities for girls.

“Earlier, we used to raise awareness among people regarding education for females; now, people are demanding educational institutions for girls,” said Khan, adding he requested a separate amount be allocated for education of females in the budget.

Right to Information (RTI) Commissioner Kalimullah Khan said every citizen of the province was legally allowed to access information. “If we have the right to information, we have the right to education too.”