LAHORE - As many as 660 primary schools can be upgraded to middle level schools if the money being spent on Danish Schools is diverted to mainstream education sector. The government has not spent even a single rupee on the flood-affected schools, ignoring them completely.
Speakers expressed these views at a post-budget policy dialogue held here on Tuesday. The dialogue titled “Effectiveness of Education Financing for FY 2011-12 in Punjab” was organised by Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) in collaboration with Campaign for Quality Education (CQE) and Department for International Development (DFID). I-SAPS Executive Director Dr Salman Humayun in his analysis said that the government was spending Rs 152 billion annually on the education sector but it could not get desired results as the learning of students was very low.
He said the Punjab government was spending Rs 3 billion only on Danish Schools. “If the amount spend on Danish Schools were saved then at least 660 schools can be upgraded from primary to middle; 500 schools from middle to matriculation level,” he said adding that the government was spending around Rs 16,000 per month on each child in Danish School, whereas, in government-run school less than Rs 1,600 was spent on one child.
He said the children were not given even basic facilities in schools and currently 21 percent of children in schools do not have the facility of toilets. He said that the government emphasised on the training of new teachers while the in-service teachers were being ignored altogether. He said that it was astonishing that the Punjab government had not spent even a single rupee for the development or rehabilitation of flood-affected schools. He said at least 2,000 schools had been destroyed in floods and only Rs 2 billion was needed for their repairs but the government left them at the mercy of foreign organisations.
Abbas Rashid in his presentation titled “Disconnect between Research and Policy: Implications for Quality Education” said that policymakers were least bothered for the research and the consultants were taken as researchers. He said that in large urban centres private schools constituted at least half if not more than total number of schools. “The policymakers appear to have very little need for the context-based research. Consultation often takes place of research,” Abbas Rashid said adding government’s research apparatus is under-funded, particularly in context of research.
He said there was no consistency in the government’s policies, as in 1973 there was nationalisation; in 1978 there was decentralisation and in 1990s there was privatisation. He said teachers are most important for the quality education and they should be given special attention. He said that there was less focus on improving the quality of colleges. I-SAPS Research Fellow Ahmed Ali said that article 25 (A) of the constitution says that the state would be bound to give free and compulsory education to children between 5 to 16 years of age.
He said that the government would have take steps on war-footing if it wanted to provide education to every child in Pakistan. Standing Committee on Education Punjab Chairperson Chaudhry Javed Ahmed said it was a dilemma that every one would criticise the government schools but no one would prefer them for one’s own children. “I have studied at a government school but now we are sending our children to private schools. Society does own government schools. We all should to do away with this thinking and should send our children to government schools so that our schools may prosper”, he added. He said he would not comment on the Danish Schools since the project was the brainchild of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.