The newly-formed provincial government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab presented the budget for the remaining eight months of the fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 on Tuesday amid much furore by the opposition. The budget, in contrast to those presented by the previous PML-N government, showed a very different tangent in priorities.
To compare the two, a simple side by side comparison of numbers in rupees will not present the true picture of the difference between the two governments when it comes to education. A better approach is to compare the percentages of allocations to gauge the priority areas for each government.
Total Budgetary Allocations
A total of Rs 373 billion have been allocated for education in Punjab for FY 2018-19 of the total budget of Rs 2,026.51 billion. This means education has been allocated 18.4% out of the total budgetary allocation. Comparatively, education was allocated Rs 345 billion or 17.51% out of the total fiscal share in Punjab for FY 2017-18. This means that the government has increased a mere 0.89% of the allocation for education during the current fiscal year.
The massive school education machinery of Punjab got the major slice of the budget pie this year, similar to previous years. School education received Rs 332.50 billion the year or 89.14% of the total budgetary allocation for education in Punjab. Previously, Rs 298 billion or 86.37% had been allocated to school education. The resultant increase amounts to 2.77% more allocation for schools of Punjab.
Higher education got Rs 37.15 billion or 9.95% of the total allocation for education. The previous year, the sector received Rs 44.61 billion or 12.93%. A drop of 2.98% from the previous fiscal year for the higher education sector.
The major change in the current budget can be seen in the difference between the allocations of the development budget. This year, a major change can be observed in the allocation of the development budget. Of the total budget for education, Rs 32.8 billion or 8.79% has been allocated for development. In contrast, a total of Rs 74.1 billion or 21.47% was allocated in the development head FY 2017-18. That is a drop of 12.68% in the allocation for development budget.
A similar trend of a drop in development allocation can be seen across the board in various sectors of education in the province. School education has been allotted Rs 25 billion or 7.51% of its total allocation in the development budget. For the previous year, however, the allocation was Rs 53.36 billion or 17.9% of the total allocated for schools. This shows a drop of almost 10.39% in the development budget for schools.
The higher education sector also saw a similar change with an allocation of Rs 5 billion (13.45%) for development during the current fiscal year. For comparison, the sector was allocated Rs 18.03 billion or 40.41% of the total allocation for education in the previous budget of FY 2017-18. That is a reduction of 26.96% for the development programmes of the sector.
Major New Schemes
The government aims to complete a total of 906 schemes during the current fiscal year. These include providing IT labs in 350 elementary and secondary schools, reconstruction of 700 dilapidated school buildings, construction of 90 shelter-less schools, provision of missing facilities and security in schools and training of 23,578 primary and 4,000 high and higher secondary schoolteachers across Punjab.
The biggest initiative promised by the government in the current budget is the establishment of three new ‘world-class’ universities in three corners of the province i.e. in the north, central and southern districts. Other initiatives announced in the budget include establishment of 44 degree colleges, provision of missing facilities in 33 colleges across the province, completion of the sub-campus of Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) and 134,000 scholarships through Punjab Education Endowment Fund (PEEF).
Phasing Out Of PML-N Schemes
The budget documents also show significant cuts for the two biggest projects of the previous government, the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) and the Daanish School. The news of the PTI government trying to end these programmes have been circulating for some time. The government, after a major outcry over the news, claimed that both the projects were not being shelved. However, as predicted, both projects receiuved cuts in their budgetary allocation this year. The PEF has been allocated Rs 12.4 billion, down from Rs 16 billion in the previous year and the Daanish Schools got Rs 1 billion, down from Rs 3 billion in the previous year.