May 5, 2018
As promised Part 2 My Comments on The Pakistan Economic Survey (PES) 2017-18. PES-Chapter 10 on Education -(pp 153 -163 ) like each year is a reference marker for many in country and abroad. It is important because it is an election year as well. The chapter has some good features but leaves one wondering how the selection of content was made, was the scribe in a hurry? Are we going forward or not? Why are we stuck on quoting obsolete figures, that undermines the sector? I, and many others in the sector see the glass half full, but that message does not come through. I shall address 3 key areas, viz. SDG 4 integration in national targets; expenditure and provincial coverage for starters. I. The first page (p.153) is dedicated to the ‘localization of SDGs 2030’ with a National Framework, mapped to SDG 4, National Targets, Indicators, Baseline (2014/15) & Target 2030. It will help to integrate planning, implementing and tracking of SDG 4. There are challenges of consistency, selection and accuracy. E.g. in d) Target 2030. One of the means of implementation for SDG 4 or 4.a is written inclusively as “Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all”. The National indicators selected are: “Proportion of schools with access to : (a) electricity: (b) the Internet for pedagogical purposes; (c) computers for pedagogical purposes; (d) adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities; (e) basic drinking water; (f) single sex basic sanitation facilities; and (g) basic hand washing facilities (as per the WASH indicator definitions)”. But sadly, the National Baseline Indicators given are only for Primary School Infrastructure with Electricity=53.0%; Drinking Water= 67.0%;Sanitation=67.0%! not even boundary walls (indicator for protection)are included? But why were facilities in middle and secondary schools excluded which have many of these ‘National Indicators’ in good order? Why are we undermining our progress? Punjab and KP have done extremely well in this area over the past 5 years –data is well recorded too, yet they are not reflected in this imp. document! & the same figures of the baselines are repeated in endline or 2030 targets too!
II. It was really sad to see that the Expenditure on Education as a percentage of GDP registered a decline in FY 2017 (pp. 157-58) at a time when we are shouting from the rooftops that we have recorded the highest GDP growth rate in 10 years at 5.4%! So where is education in this glory, does it not deserve to be a solid citizen deserving progressive expenditure trends? No matter how we cut it 2.2% of GDP recorded as expenditure in 2016-17 is a notch down from 2015-16 at 2.3% and fails all promises made by political parties of raising this from 4-6%! This is what our leaders have been saying all along and the National Education Policy 2009 promised 7%! It is also not surprising to see the headlines of the UNDP’s National Human Development Report (NHDR) Unleashing the potential of a Young Pakistan launched on May 2, 2018, that 76.9 % of our adolescents/youth (15-29 years) drop out of schools. This is mainly because we have a severe shortage of institutions beyond the depleted/low functioning primary facilities as noted above. Post primary facilities in Pakistan need a huge investment through a new design frame so eloquently noted by Faisal Bari yesterday (co-author of the NDHR)
Primary 169.6 Middle 49.1 High 31.6 Higher Sec: 5.1.
Degree Colleges: 1.4 TVET: 3.8 Universities 0.185
Source: Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-18 (Table 10.1 )
A quick look at the table given in the PES 2017, reveals that in 2016-17, compared to Primary institutions (169,600) there are only 49100 middle schools, 19% (31,600) high schools, 3% (5100) higher secondary schools, 1400 degree colleges and 3800 TVET institutions and 185 universities! The disappearing landscape of opportunities means that choices fade for youth and cultural barriers keep getting higher as encapsulated in the survey of 130,000 youth for the NDHR http://www.pk.undp.org/…/human-development-repo…/PKNHDR.html); “.less than 10 per cent of women feel they have control over who they marry and when. Almost 80pc of youth do not have access to parks, 95pc or so do not have access to libraries, 97pc have not been to a live music event, 94pc have not been to a sports event, 93pc do not have access to sports facilities, 97pc have not been to a cinema and over 70pc reported that they did not have any of the above” (Bari 3rd May 2018) https://www.dawn.com/news/1405551. A majority of them want second chance opportunity to improve education and skills. With 64% of population below the age of 30 years, Pakistan has the largest generation of youth 29% (15-29 years) ever recorded in its history making it one of the youngest countries in the world! This is a huge opportunity where Education and skills has to be a game changer and for that sustained resources are needed first and foremost at the domestic level that are well targeted for outcomes and spent with high returns. This resonates with the four core pillars of the Learning Generation urging high and sustained domestic financing at 97% with additional resources from international financing opportunities along with, high performance delivery plans that work, innovations and inclusion. www.educationcomission.org
III. As I mentioned earlier that this chapter mentions provinces only in passing, in the section on Development Programs FY 2018 (p. 159) at federal and provincial levels sharing allocations by level of education However, as an anchor national document, it does not do justice to what the provinces are doing in their customized sector reforms, producing outcomes and acknowledging challenges. We miss this completely in the 10 pages with almost the remaining pages (pp. 159-162) allocated to technical vocational initiatives with merely 345,000 enrolment in 3800 institutions nationwide, a sector that needs huge acceleration with care for our rather sad adolescents/youth. The missing information on provinces was also lamented by Mustaq Rajpar in his piece Budgeting Education in the News https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/311840-budgeting-education