The now defunct Ministry of Education had announced a national education policy in 2009 with the usual fanfare attending such occasions. The purpose of the policy was to chalk out a national strategy for pursuing improvements in education. The Ministry was optimistic that many of the policy actions outlined, most notably in the domains of curriculum development, textbook or learning materials policy, provision of missing facilities, will be taken up for priority action. However, it either ignored or did not take into account the work being done by the Parliamentary Committee for reforms in the 1973 Constitution, which had been mauled by successive military rulers. After the approval of the 18th Amendment, education was devolved to the provinces. A new Article 25(A) was inserted, which declares that the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in a manner that may be determined by law. No such determination has yet been made by law. The provinces, presumably, will enact such laws at their convenience. Of late, there has been a growing recognition of the fact that the acceleration of economic progress requires an improvement in Pakistans lagging social indicators, particularly in the education sector. The level of public spending is a key indicator of the governments dedication and commitment to the cause of education. Pakistan ranks among the bottom five countries of the world, as far as public expenditure on education, as a percentage of total public spending which is close to eight percent, is concerned. A great deal of propaganda was unleashed by the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) and is even now being propagated by personalities formerly associated with it that the devolution was synonymous with progress in all walks of life. The figures showing an increase in the number of schools and enrolment, official literacy rate and other indicators are often produced to show that the status of education in Pakistan as a result of district governments had positively improved. However, the fact is that at least six million children of primary school-going age are still not enrolled and less than half of all children end up completing primary school. Despite the governments claims that education is its top priority, public spending on it during 2009-10 declined to 1.8 percent of the GDP from 2.6 percent in the early 1990s. The education sector has and continues to suffer from a persistent and acute under investment by the government, since its very inception. The low level of resources allocated and even lesser utilised, stand in sharp contrast to the commitment required by the policy statements that set up ambitious goals for the sector. The contrast between the vision and commitment has been pointed out by the officials of the Planning Commission: We cannot spend only 2 percent of our GDP on education and expect to become a vibrant knowledge economy. The inadequate financing explains the crisis in public education today. The large number of religious seminaries that cater to the most depressed sections of communities can be seen as a direct consequence of the States failure to take care of its future assets. The establishment of expensive and westernised educational institutions operating in urban centres are meant to cater to the affluent classes. Thus, the neglect of financing public education has given birth to three systems of education in the country. Pakistan is now one of the 12 countries that spends less than 2 percent of the GDP on education. Although education enjoys the highest priority on the social sector agenda, which as a whole is poorly funded when compared to defence, general administration and debt servicing, allocations are modest due to indispensable rigidities, such as resource constraints, large establishment bills due to a large salaried-workforce and heavy debt interest repayments, arising from different priority commitments of the country. What is tragic and reflective of the pathetic state of governance in the sector, is the fact that the meagre allocations are not fully utilised within the financial year and huge surrenders and lapses of allocated funds occur at the close of the financial year. The devolution of power actually made matters worse. It gave the district governments responsibility for deciding on the location of new schools and arranging funding for their construction. Additionally, district governments were to monitor schools and carry out annual evaluations of teachers. A large number of district nazims had received no formal education. They found it extremely difficult to carry out any of the responsibilities devolving on them in the education sector. They had to depend on the Executive District Officer (EDOs) (Education), who in many cases did not belong to the Education Department and had little or no understanding of the needs and requirements of the sector. The funds meant for the education sector were under the control of the District Coordination Officers (DCOs). In many cases, the DCOs perceived the EDOs as officers with little capability or imagination. Another type of implementation problem surfaces in the corruption that perverts the entire spectrum of the system. Anecdotes abound of education allocations systematically diverted to personal use at most levels of the allocation chain. Political influence and favouritism are believed to interfere in the allocation of resources to the districts and schools, in recruitment, training and posting of teachers and school administrators that are not based on merit, in awarding of textbook contracts, and in the conduct of examinations and assessments. So, the pervasive nature of corruption reflects a deeper malaise where service to the students and learners is not at the forefront of the thought and behaviour processes in operating the system. The writer is a retired secretary of the Government of Pakistan. Email: