LAHORE - Like previous years, the Punjab government maintained the trend of decreasing the budget allocation for education in the next fiscal year.

In its ninth consecutive budget, the PML-N’s provincial government has allocated Rs 323 billion, that is 19 percent of the total budget - Rs1681 billion - fixed for education in fiscal year 2016-17.

The current education budget is 58pc of the total ADP allocated for current year while last year it was 77pc of the total ADP.

The total budget also includes Rs12 billion for Punjab Educational Foundation, Danish Schools and Endowment fund, otherwise it is just around Rs312billion slightly more than last year budget.

Interestingly, last year the education allocation was Rs310 billion out of total Rs1,447 billion of total Punjab budget that was 21pc of the total provincial budget. However, the education budget saw an increase of Rs50 billion in 2015-16, a rise of 19.5pc over the allocated budget in 2014-15.

The amount of Rs310 billion earmarked for education in 2015-16 constitutes about 21 percent of the total provincial budget for Punjab that decreased from 24 percent in 2014-15. The percentage share of education in Punjab’s overall budget has seen downfall from 26 percent in 2013-14 to 19 percent in 2016-17.

The Punjab government has allocated Rs550 billion for annual development program while about Rs323 billion earmarked for education. That includes Rs256b for schools education while Rs47b for higher education, Rs12b for PEF, Rs4b for Punjab Endowment fund, Rs3b for Danish schools, and Rs1b special education.

Moreover, major targets fixed for 2016-17 related to school education include provision of missing facilities schools of the province and Rs5b have been made in the budget. An allocation of Rs500 million has been earmarked for this purpose in ADP 2016-17 in order to provide 500 IT Labs.

An allocation of Rs15 billion has been made in ADP 2016-17 for provision of 12,500 additional class rooms. Under this initiative, schools having highest enrollment will be provided additional classrooms in order to eliminate multi-grade and overcrowding. In addition to this, 11,000 classrooms are being provided through the funding from DFID UK.

The government is launching a Strengthening of Schools Programme of Rs50 billion to develop missing facilities in all schools. The UK government through DFID will also be assisting the government in this programme and will contribute Rs17.6 billion.

An allocation of Rs8 billion has been kept in ADP 2016-17 for rehabilitation/reconstruction of 4,063 dilapidated school buildings. As many as 6,313 scholarships will be provided in 2016-17 on the basis of Punjab Education Commission results. 500 new primary schools will be established in next year. Early Child Education pilot scheme will continue which was especially successful in retention of students of Grade-I.

An allocation has been made in current fiscal year to provide Early Child Education in additional 1,000 primary schools. PEF has been assigned the task to enroll 2.8 million children by 2019 under the expansion plan of Chief Minister’s Education Roadmap.

Moreover, in Higher education sector, an allocation has been made in ADP 2016-17 for establishment of new universities in Sahiwal, Okara, Vehari and Jhang through feasibility studies from reputed consultant firms under the supervision of Punjab Higher Education Commission and Higher Education Department.

Likewise an allocation has been made in ADP 2016-17 for Establishment of GC University Faisalabad sub campuses at Toba Tek Singh and Jaranwala through feasibility studies. An IT and Engineering University will be established in Rahim Yar Khan to cater the educational needs of southern Punjab.

The Higher Education Department distributed 310,000 laptop computers in Punjab in the previous years. For this purpose Rs4 billion have been kept in the financial year 2016-17 for the purchase of 400,000 laptops.

In the budget, the government has focused on special education and literacy enhancement. Establishment of Govt. Degree College of Special Education at Multan is one of the big projects.

Moreover, according to rough estimates, under the development budget for school education the government as of April, 2016 had only been able to spend just over 42 percent. Budgetary allocations are not getting transferred into meaningful spending as a result provincial education indicators continue to show little progress.

However, there are no detailed budget allocations for district education in the budget because they would be finalised by the districts in future so this corner is also black.