Education experts on Thursday urged the federal government to enhance the budget for education by marking it as the pivotal factor in national growth and development.
They demanded the new national education policy should address the accountability process in the education sector as well. This came under discussion at a conference titled “Finance More to Educate More” held at a local hotel to mark International Literacy Day 2015. The event was organised by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with Oxfam GB (OGB). While addressing the seminar, AJK Education Minister Mian Abdul Waheed said, “We need to change the perception regarding needs and requirements for distribution of resources for education.” While talking about the importance of general public awareness, the minister said that common man and voter should come forward by compelling their leaders to work on their basic rights like education.
Experts expressed their concerns over the current situation in education sector and suggested that there should be a process to improve curriculum and formal teaching methods as par international standards while education financing should focus on bringing out equal number of girls as boys nationally. They also mentioned that designing curriculum with achievable goals and outcomes and focused towards the labor market while they stressed upon include 3rd party representatives for accountability of funds, such as media, private sector.
The event was divided into three sessions which each began with a presentation from the Education Youth Ambassadors (EYAs) of ITA’s EYA program for Pakistan. Moving forward, each panelist gave their suggestions on the topic and then held an open floor for discussion on any recommendations being formed. The first session ‘Quality vs Quantity’ Hassan Sattar, Managing Director, Silver Oaks School System said “Smart is not something you are, it’s something you get through, lasting curiosity to learn and acquiring intellectual virtues for lifelong well-being”
Dr Vardah Malik, Education Public-Private-Partnership Specialist while addressing the session said “The private sector was not previously so concerned about education but now education sector is also being looked at by them, this is a positive sign of development for communities, as partnerships are a way forward.” Meanwhile, the representative of KPK education department Sultan Mehmood, Additional Director Elementary and Secondary Department highlighted that “It is important to have skill development to meet the demand and supply market for employment, and more small and medium enterprises apart from medical, sciences and law. In order to have a positive outlook towards education, it is important to award teachers as this is the highest honour in society.”
While speaking on the occasion Qadeer Baig, Country Representative of Rutgers WPF said “The mind-set is that women stay at home and hence do not need education however they lead generations and focusing on gender equity is important for the development of Pakistan.” Alam Thaheem, Director Literacy & Non-Formal Education, Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh while addressing a session on Social Accountability added, “Priority should be given to girls, in such a way that her journey while trying to gain education should be incentivized in a safe and secure environment”
A follow up resource bank will be available on the ITA and Right to Education Pakistan website, including policy briefs and any recommendations drafted during the seminar. Sadaf Taimur, Education Youth Ambassador while talking to participants said “It is our own responsibility to contribute for the society, until we don’t stand up very little will change”, ITA Education Youth Ambassador. International Literacy Day was recently celebrated on September 8th 2015 all across the world and with the fast approaching deadline for the MDGs, ITA decided to stimulate weeklong activities related to the 2015 theme of ‘Sustainable Societies’.
According to the Pakistan Data Portal, the education budget for the year 2015-2016 was set as 2.1 percent of the fiscal budget of Rs 4.451 trillion. Furthermore, The Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) report provided a School Council fund utilization breakdown for last year; 2 percent for teacher and sweeper salaries, 2 percent for utility bills, 5 percent on stationery and student uniforms, 82 percent on infrastructure the left over 8 percent on other various expenditures.