The education budget for the Punjab, as a share of the total budget has declined considerably. Punjab government on Friday announced a balanced budget of Rs. 1,447.42 billion, registering an increase of 40 percent over the ongoing fiscal year’s budget. The education budget saw an increase of Rs. 50.6 billion in 2015-16, a significant rise of 19.5 per cent over the allocated budget in 2014-15. The amount of Rs. 310.2 billion earmarked for education in 2015-16 constitutes 21.4 percent of the total provincial budget for Punjab; going down from 24 percent in 2014-15. The percentage share of education in Punjab’s overall budget has gone down from 26 percent in 2013-14 to 21.4 percent in 2015-16.

According to the Budget 2015-16 White Paper issued by the Government of Punjab, major targets fixed for 2015-16 related to school education include provision of missing facilities in 7,500 schools of the province, provision of IT laboratories in 990 secondary/higher secondary schools having highest enrolment, provision of 2,500 additional classrooms in schools having highest enrollment, reconstruction of 4,727 dangerous school buildings, provision of solar solution to 5,000 off-grid and 5,000 other schools and opening of 500 new schools in Punjab.

Completion of all the above mentioned initiatives and to address other budgetary needs of the education system, the budget for school education has been increased from Rs. 48.4 billion in 2014-15 to Rs. 62.6 billion in 2015-16; anupsurge of 29 percent. The budget earmarked for school education in 2015-16 includes 47 per cent non-development budget to go with 53 per cent allocation for development budget.

Following are some of the highlights of school education budget of Punjab 2015-16:

Reconstruction of Dangerous School BuildingsRecently there has been a debate around dangerous school buildings and the need of budgetary prioritization in this regard. Education budget proposals for Punjab 2015-16 developed by Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) and signed by all political parties during a recent All Parties Conference (APC) held in Lahore also proposed a significant amount to be allocated for dangerous school buildings in Punjab. Punjab currently has 859 school buildings that are critically dangerous whereas 3,868 school buildings are partially dangerous in the province. For reconstruction of these 4,727 dangerous school buildings, a budget of Rs. 8.52 billion has been apportioned in 2015-16.

Programme Monitoring and Implementation UnitA budget of Rs. 20.5 billion has been apportioned for Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit (PMIU) in 2015-16, registering an increase of 45 per cent (Rs. 6.3 billion) over the previous year’s allocation. The budget for PMIU has been increased significantly from Rs. 8.2 billion in 2007-08 to Rs. 20.5 billion in 2015-16; an increase of 150 per cent in 9 years. The allocated amount of Rs. 20.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year includes Rs. 14 billion block allocation for augmentation of non-salary component for School Councils (SCs) in Punjab under Non-Salary Budget (NSB) scheme, Rs. 3.6 billion for free textbooks (plus Rs. 29 million for their distribution) for students under Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme (PESRP), Rs. 1.5 billion for girls’ stipends in 16 selected districts of Punjab and Rs. 290 million for publicity and advertisement. I-SAPS in its education budget proposals for 2015-16 had also proposed Rs. 14 billion for SCs in all the districts of Punjab.

Teacher TrainingWith the international focus shifting towards ensuring inclusive, equitable and ‘quality’ education opportunities for all, professional development of teachers is one of the keys to success in the post MDGs period. With this in mind, the Punjab government has increased in-service teacher training budget from Rs. 2.91 billion in 2014-15 to Rs. 3.19 billion in 2015-16, marking an increase of 9.4 percent. Education budget proposals for Punjab 2015-16 by I-SAPS had proposed an increase of 15 per cent for in-service teacher training in Punjab. The budget for in-service teacher training has risen smoothly over the last 9 years showing an increase of 83 per cent, i.e., from Rs. 1.74 billion in 2007-08 to Rs. 3.19 billion in the budget for upcoming fiscal year 2015-16. Also an allocation of Rs. 1.07 billion has been made for Elementary Teachers Training Colleges in Punjab in the education budget for 2015-16.

Daanish School SystemWith an aim to provide quality and free education to the poorest sections of the society, Daanish schools were established in the Punjab under the Punjab Daanish Schools and Centres of Excellence Authority Act 2010. The budget for Daanish schools has almost remained consistent over the last 7 years starting from Rs. 3 billion in 2009-10 to the same amount in 2015-16; although it was reduced to Rs. 2 billion in 2012-13 and 2014-15. A separate budget of Rs. 1.8 billion has also been earmarked for establishment of Daanish schools in Punjab. Also Rs. 12 million have been allocated for covering the educational expenses of students from Balochistan who are studying in Daanish Schools in Punjab.

Punjab Examination CommissionPunjab Examination Commission (PEC) is an autonomous body set up by the Government of the Punjab to assess and examine students’ learning achievements particularly of grade 5 and 8. For the upcoming fiscal year 2015-16, an amount of Rs. 908 million has been apportioned for PEC presenting a significant increase of 15.4 per cent increasing compared with the budgetary allocation of Rs. 787 million in 2014-15.

Punjab Education FoundationThe Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) is an autonomous statutory body formed to encourage and support the efforts of the private sector in providing education to the poor, through public private partnerships. In the budget for 2015-16, PEF has been allocated an amount of Rs. 10.5 billion increasing its share from Rs. 7.5 billion in the last 2 years.

Punjab Education Assessment SystemConsistent with the budgetary allocations in 2014-15, no budget has been set aside for Punjab Education Assessment System (PEAS) in 2015-16 as well.

Chief Minister’s Monitoring ForceA budget of Rs. 435 million has been earmarked for Chief Minister’s monitoring force in 2015-16, showing a decrease of Rs. 41 million compared with the allocated budget in 2014-15.

Note: All calculations presented here are of Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS), Islamabad