PESHAWAR - The policy dialogue on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Budget 2013-14 was organised by the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) in collaboration with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) here on Tuesday.

"The developmental funds should be allocated to the need-based assessment and in view of ground realities for the promotion of education across the province," the speakers said suggesting the effective and mechanised utilisation of budgetary allocations in education sector by proper monitoring of its developmental schemes. The objective of the dialogue was to analyse the KPK budget for the fiscal year 2013-14 and to initiate a process of informed deliberations to improve the public spending.  In the programme, KPK Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser participated as a chief guest while provincial assembly members belonging to both treasury and opposition benches also attended the dialogue. In the dialogue, prominent speakers were a research fellow Ahmad Ali, QWP MPA Miraj Humayun, senior journalist Rahimullah Yousafzai and Naeem Sidhu from I-SAPS while representatives of donor agencies, civil society, and media organisations were also attended the session.

The panellists hailed the efforts taken by the incumbent PTI-led provincial government for making a considerable increase in a number of disciplines in the budgetary allocation for education sector, which they said reflecting their priorities and seriousness of legislators. Asad Qaiser said the PTI-led coalition government was focusing on promotion of education as it has already declared the education emergency in the province. He said the dropout ratio of students and enrolment of the out of school children are the biggest challenges for their government. The provincial government, he said had already launched an enrolment drive across the province, that would helpful to ensure enrolment of a large number of children in the public sector schools, he added.

KPK assembly speaker said the development and progress for any nation is impossible without promoting education and he urged upon all the political forces to strengthen the hands of the government for the promotion of education. The provincial government has planned to establish an education city of international standard near Mardan under the public-private partnership scheme, in which foreign investors also showed their interest, he asserted. He maintained that another plan of setting up a technical university of international standard in the province was also in pipeline.

Earlier, an I-SAPS research fellow Ahmad Ali delivered a comprehensive statistical presentation on current budgetary allocations in perspective of previous ones for KPK education sector. "About 4.5 million children of 5-16 years of age are out of schools while about 42 per cent children under age 4-9 are still out of schools," he revealed. Similarly, he presented that about 29 per cent schools are without portable water facility, 42 per cent schools have not electricity and 17.3 per cent schools are lacking toilets.

He said about 20 per cent schools have no proper boundary walls. He informed the meeting that a total outlay of education budget is about Rs20.48 billion out of which Rs13.83 billion would be used in recurring and Rs6.65 billion would be allocated for the development.

Besides, Naeem Sidhu said KPK is still lagging behind in making proper legislation about the implantation of Article 25-A of the constitution for compulsory free education, which has become mandatory to children of age 5-16. According to estimates, he said the KPK government needs to construct 15,000 more schools to enrol 4.5 million out of school children.