KARACHI: The recurrent budget for education in the fiscal year 2011-12 has been increased by 15 percent. This was announced by Sindh Minister for Finance, Murad Ali Shah, in his budget speech here on Friday. He said that the priority being given to the education sector can be gauged from the fact that the total recurrent budget for education including technical education has increased from Rs 22.8 billion during the outgoing year to Rs 26.2 billion for the fiscal year 2011-12- an increase of 15 percent.
The Minister pointed out that in keeping with the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah regarding education, the present government understands that if there is any one sector where investments are going to yield the greatest dividends, it is education. “Education is where the greatest investment needs to be made. It is where our future lies”.
Considering this fact, “we have planned to increase allocation for education sizeably at the school level by introducing Minimum Funding Standard for Schools (MFSS),” the Provincial Finance Minister added.
The districts have agreed to prepare school specific budgets following these standards for non-salary component of school budgets.
The Minister said that the Sindh Government is supporting this initiative of districts with a tied grant of Rs 1.79 billion. With the introduction of MFSS, non-salary budget of schools in Sindh would rise from current year’s Rs 830 million to Rs 3,670 million during next FY; signifying a growth of 342%.
Major reforms in education sector are continuing through the World Bank and European Union-assisted Sindh Education Reform Programme (SERP), which focuses upon increasing school participation, reducing gender and rural-urban disparities in school participation, increasing retention especially of female students and improving the measurement of student learning.
The programme has two components of financing, the first component of US$ 294 million for satisfactory achievement of disbursement linked indicators and second component of US$ 6 million for Technical Assistance.
US$ 205.54 million have been received so far. An Agreement for soft loan of additional US$ 50 million has been signed during current financial year. Both World Bank and European Union have shown willingness to continue the SERP in the second phase for another three years.
Murad Ali Shah further stated that “we have engaged with international institutions in order to provide quality learning for our people”.
He said that major achievements under this programme during out-going financial year are:
Rehabilitation of 1024 schools through an expenditure of Rs 2.408 billion.
Merit and Need Based Recruitment of 8000 teachers.
Distribution of Free Text Books among 4 million students.
Establishment of 300 schools in previously un-served areas through private entrepreneurship. Another 700 schools would be opened under this initiative during the next academic year.
Release of Rs 1,078.188 million to 40,249 School Management Committees in order to promote grass root engagement in promotion of education.
Provision of Rs 1071.57 million to 380,000 female students at Rs 2400-3600 per annum from class VI to X in order to improve female retention in schools.
The priority being given to education sector can be gauged from the fact that total recurrent budget for Education including technical education has increased from Rs 22.8 billion during outgoing year to Rs 26.2 billion for FY 2011-12; an increase of 15%.