Karachi - Sindh Chief Murad Ali Shah said that the education continued to be one of the key priority areas for Sindh government.

In order to manage education related functions in an efficient manner, enhance quality of education and provide better facilities at the educational institutions, Department of Education was divided into two departments, School Education and College Education Department (CED) in 2016. This bifurcation gave us an opportunity to micromanage the affairs with a better understanding of needs and aspirations of stakeholders.

For the next financial year 2020-21, the CM said that the budget of Education sector, in a macro perspective, had been increased to Rs.244.5 billion, compared with Rs.212.4 billion for financial year 2019-20. Despite resource constraints,he said he had allocated funds which were 25.2 percent of Current Revenue Budget.

In ADP for the next financial year 2020-21, Education sector has been allocated Rs.21.1 billion for 397 on-going and 11 new, but unapproved schemes. An allocation of Rs.3.1 billion is provided under Foreign Projects Assistance (FPA) in addition to the provincial development budget resource allocation.

The School Education department has been allocated Rs.13.2 billion for 265 ongoing schemes and 4 new schemes. Most of schemes are for “Up-grading existing government schools from Primary to Secondary levels, Rehabilitating and Improving schools, Providing Furniture, Basic and Missing Facilities, construction & re-construction of existing dangerous school buildings,” the CM said. For College Education Department, Rs.3.71 billion has been proposed in ADP 2020-21 for 67 on-going and 2 new schemes. Rs.3.3 billion have been allocated for providing funds topublic sector universities for strengthening their educational infrastructure and for constructing new educational facilities.

According to the CM, Education sector is divided into three broad categories. These include School Education, College Education and Higher Education i.e. university and professional education.

SCHOOL EDUCATION: Mr Shah said that importance of education at school level could never be understated. At this stage a child’s learning, guidance, trait building, and understanding of social norms, traditions, religion and social behavior were ready to be nurtured, he said and added`Early Childhood Education’ was the need of the day, as a strong foundation set the pace for developing a child into a productive member of society. He said that his government provided funds for school education from its limited resources. Moreover, international donors also chip in with their share towards improving quality of education in Sindh.

Schools data: The Sindh Government schools’data for 2019 shows total enrolment in Primary schools is 2,473,693, inclusive of 1,523,250 male students and 950,443 female students. A total of 690,528 students in Middle Classes include 433,550 boys and 256,978 girls. For Secondary Levels, total enrolment is 382,558 out of which 248,398 are boys and 134,160 are girls. In Higher Secondary Levels, total enrolment is 129,118 out of which 90,304 are boys and 38,814 are girls. Total enrolment at all levels of schools’ education is 4,561,140 out of which 2,812,000 are boys and 1,749,140 are girls.

Rs1b for EMOs: The Chief Minister said that the Sindh Government had adopted various key indicators for need assessments and performance evaluation. These indicators helped understand needs and accordingly assign resources where needed. For the next financial year 2020-21.Rs.1billion had been allocated as grant in aid for Education Management Organization for handing over management of various schools to EMOs.

The government has allocated Rs.6.6 billion for purchase of furniture and fixture, Rs.6.1 billion for new activities with the help of International Donor Agencies, Rs.2.3 billion for free text books, Rs.1.8 billion for School Management Committee to meet the requirements of schools, Rs.5 billion for repair and maintenance of school buildings, Rs.480 million for Emergent Need Fund for meeting new initiatives under COVID-19 and Rs.663.4 million for educational assets of proscribed organizations of Sindh taken over by Government of Sindh in budget for the next financial year 2020-21.

Achievement in education: According to the CM Sindh, in School Education, achievements in the financial year 2019-20 include profiling of schools, providing essential facilities to 1606 primary, elementary and high schools in 29 districts, groundwork for making 15 English Medium & 6 Comprehensive Schools operational under PPP Node through EMOs from next academic year, 10 more English Medium and nine Comprehensive High Schools in nine districts to be completed with all facilities of science/IT labs and libraries etc. Also, establishment of 2000 new early Childhood Care & Education class rooms, training of 2500 early Childhood Education teachers and printing of Rs.4.93 million sets of text books to all schools at Taluka and district levels is in process.

New targets in education: In the next financial year 2020-21, CM said Sindh govt had set a number of targets which would provide requisite infrastructure, solar system/IT Science labs and auditoriums in 35 existing schools. It is planned to increase enrolment in Post Primary Schools to 181,047 approximately, in schools run under Sindh Education Foundation (SEF), rolling out 300 schools in SEF Introducing Smart Teaching and Learning program, intervention of education, employment and empowerment of 15000 Youth in collaboration with UNDP, planning of establishment of 10 schools on priority basis under long term institutional engagement with The Citizen Foundation for developing/managing approximately 5000 schools in a 10 year period under SEFs subsidy model and supply of 4.79 million sets that is. 239.4 million text books to students in all districts of the province. GIS based exercise for clustering of schools at Union Council level is being completed for the province to identify around 1800 main/hub schools initially for resolving access issues, specifically for girls. School Education and Literacy department has identified school within cells of 2 kilometers radius. Around 3200 cell schools have been identified. These cell schools will perform multiple functions with financial and administrative powers.

Rs9.5 bn for SEF: Mr Shah said that during the current financial year 2019-20, Rs.9.5 billion were allocated for Sindh Education Foundation. He said same amount was repeated in the next year budget 2020-21 of Sindh Education Foundation.

 SEF schools’ current enrollment is 450,000 students which is expected to increase to 550,000 in the next financial year 2020-21. Moreover, 200 new schools and 200 new Technical Training Centers will be added to the portfolio of the Foundation.

 As a major arm of the Sindh Government for Public Private Partnerships in education sector, Sindh Education foundation, is handling a portfolio of over 2,300 schools, spread across the deepest rural pockets of Sindh. The SEF roll has an enrollment of over half a million students. Though the year 2019-20 was largely dedicated to strengthening and improving programs and policies, the Foundation has made strategic investments for providing quality education services/facilities in its assisted schools/centers throughout the province to ensure sustained progress. Moreover, in 2019-20, number of post primary schools increased to 470 which are catering to an overall enrollment of around 164,588 students.

 College Education: The Chief Minister said that there were total 146 boys colleges, 131 girls colleges and 50 Co-Education Colleges in the province of Sindh under administrative control of College Education Department. Total student enrolment is 436,980.

 Education in COVID-19 situation: According to the CM, in order to manage college education in a COVID-19 perspective, College Education Department is planning to launch a program of distance learning by establishing computer labs, centralized teaching and utilizing the services of web services. For enhancing technology-based interventions in College Education Department, Rs.451million has been allocated in the next financial year 2020-21. Moreover, Rs.300million has been allocated as Endowment Fund for NED University of Engineering & Technology Karachi. And Rs.30 million are kept as grant-in-aid for Government College for Information Technology Guru Nagar, Hyderabad.

 Social distancing makes restriction on movements imperative. COVID-19 has affected school going children too. Several strategies are being explored and world leading educational solution providers are being contacted for identifying workable teaching solutions. College Education Department has also planned to promote science and technology by holding science and technology competitions and exhibitions for college students. Top science and technology projects will be rewarded by the Government of Sindh.

 Universities & Boards:Mr Shah said that his government promoted academic and research activities in higher educational institutions. In the current financial year 2019-20,sufficient funds were disbursed in public sector universities as Grant-in-Aid. Education and Boards were also provided funds to pay examination fee which was earlier required to be paid by the students.

 Project of establishment of Benazir Bhutto Chair at Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur is expected to be completed in the next financial year 2020-21. In the next financial year 2020-21 the allocation of Rs.5 billion is proposed for grant to Universities, Rs. 2 billion to educational boards and Rs. 1.2 billion for scholarship to position holders/A-1 grader in Sindh. Besides Rs.392million are allocated for various Cadet Colleges and Rs.259 million for various public schools. Rs.50.0 million is proposed for Performance Incentive under ‘Program for Results’.

 The Chief Minister said that efforts were made to reduce educational loss due to lockdown in wake of COVID-19. Most of the Universities had started preparations for conducting online classes.