PESHAWAR - Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government in its fifth annual budget allocated Rs127.91 billion for education sector, in which Rs115.92 billion are reserved for primary and secondary schools while a sum of Rs6.32 billion is set aside for higher education, making a total increase of 18 per cent in education budget against the outgoing year.

Finance Minister Muzaffar Said in his budget speech said that KP government was deeply committed to transforming public education system. He claimed that fiscal year 2016-17 was a significant year in terms of education sector reforms, as the education department along with development partners achieved multitude of milestones in this regard.

He also said that provincial government was striving to provide better education to its people and constructing primary, middle and high schools to ensure a quality education across the province.

The budgetary document stated that fundamental focus is on providing access to education, create a gender balance and fulfil the infrastructural requirements of existing institutions including staff, labs, equipment, furniture, teachers training. Besides, funds are allocated for provision of safe drinking water, construction of additional rooms, repair and maintenance work, establishment of examination halls, libraries in schools, and installation of solar system, provision of transport facilities, and security to public sector colleges along with teachers’ training sessions in various disciplines and rehabilitation of playgrounds through college council.

In the budget a sum of Rs14 billion has been reserved for primary and elementary education to be spent on total 77 projects, in which Rs12.65 billion are set aside for ongoing projects while Rs1.35 billion for new projects, the minister said, adding that emphasis was being laid on education sector and decided to convert 100 Masjid Maktab schools to primary schools, and build 410 new primary schools for girls and boys on requirement basis, across the province.

Besides, funds for establishment of model schools in district Karak, Haripur, Charsadda, Hangu and Batgram have also been allocated, the minister said, adding that 100 primary schools for boys and girls would be upgraded to middle, 100 middle schools to high and 100 high schools to higher secondary school level across the province.

The finance minister also stated that as many as 14,000 new teachers would be recruited, while a door-to-door survey would be conducted to know about out-of-school children. Those female teachers performing duties in far-flung areas would be given special allowance, while special rewards will also be given to teachers, headmasters, and principals on performance basis, he said. 

Likewise, a sum of Rs6.32 billion has been allocated for higher education’s 65 projects in which Rs3.99 billion have been kept for the ongoing projects, while Rs2.32 billion for new projects.

The budget targets include categorisation of seminar halls in the directorate of achieves, repairing of existing public libraries, initiating BS 4-year programmes in 62 colleges and capacity enhancement of 4-year teacher engagement programme. It also includes MPhil and PhD programmes for college lecturers through faculty development support programmes, besides training sessions for lecturers of various colleges, and establishment of new public sector colleges on requirement basis, besides establishment of a science and technology department with support of Austria at a cost of Rs8.2 billion, the budget document stated.

The minister stated in the budget documents that provincial government would also establish a Quality Assurance Cell (QAC) to ascertain performance of all public and private universities in the province.    

The main focus of new projects is to promote the education at the primary level, fulfil the infrastructural requirements of existing institutions including staff, equipment, furniture, teachers training and essential repairs, said the budgetary document, the minister said.