ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has one of the lowest ratios in the world where people have access to the higher education, as only 5.1 per cent of people aged 17-23 years are currently enrolled for higher education in the country. The National Assembly was informed during the question-hour session on Wednesday. It is imperative to enhance access to quality education in Pakistan so that we join the ranks of developed nations, said the Minister for Education, in a written reply. Replying to a question regarding justification to obtain a huge amount of loan in view of the devolution of education ministry to the provinces under the 18th Amendment, the Minster said that the education policy approved by the cabinet called for increasing enrolments in the higher education to 10 per cent by 2015, so significant resources were required. In terms of item 12, part second of the fourth schedule/federal legislative list under the Constitution (eighteen amendment) act 2010, standard in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions has been declared a federal subject, he replied. Being a responsibility of the HEC, it was essential to have 300 million dollars World Bank loan (100 million dollars per year for three years) due to the financial crunch at the national level, to address the issues of quality and relevance of teaching and research. This World Bank funded IDA loan, he said, had been offered to Pakistan at extremely attractive rates (essentially interest free) and would help alleviate the financial crunch while allowing progress towards implementing the education policy. He further said that 300 million US dollars World Bank loan was being negotiated to support the implementation of the first phase of the governments higher education development programme as outlined in the second Medium Term Development Framework for Higher Education for 2011-2015. To another question, the Minister for Industries and Production said that as many as 651 industrial units had been closed down during the year 2009-10 in four provinces, including 70 in Punjab, 260 in Sindh, 307 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 14 in Balochistan. The reasons for closure were financial, management, marketing problems, energy crisis, lack of entrepreneurial skills, law and order situation, partnership disputes, outstanding liabilities and going on global recession, he added. To another question, Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Shah said that the Haj Policy was expected to announce by the end of March or early April 2011. To a supplementary question about Khudam-ul-hujaj, the Minister said that there was a proposal under consideration to hire a Saudi national as Khudam-ul-Hujaj as they know all the holy places as well as routes just to save the time of Pakistani hajis. To a supplementary question, the Minister said that the government was ready to privatise the Haj operation completely after the approval of the Parliament. He said that this year applications for Haj would be received from 10 April. No subsidy could be offered to Pakistani Hajis because the Islamic Ideological Council had issued a decree in this regard.To another question, the Minister for Education said that Sarhad University of Information Technology as per the rule was not allowed to offer any degree programmes through any mode of education until or unless that programme was being offered at the main campus, but the university was issuing degree.