Slashing of Education sector budget in Pakistan?

Gut reaction
Friendly budget
Lubna Jerar Naqvi, The News, June 03, 2010

With the budget hovering, there are reports that the education-sector allocation will be slashed down. According to reports, the amount allocated to the education sector in the 2010-11 budget will be slashed by one billion 70 million rupees, leaving five billion 20 million rupees. Higher education will face a cut of two billion 70 million rupees. And as if that wasn't enough, there are reports that school fees may see a spike by 15 per cent during the next academic year.

This is strange since only last September, while addressing a seminar on International Literacy Day, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his government aimed to achieve 85 per cent literacy in Pakistan by 2015. He declared 2010 as the year of literacy. He had also said then that the government had allocated over Rs31 billion in the budget for the education sector. He claimed that the education allocations would be raised to four per cent of the GDP from the current level of 2.4 per cent.

But in April this year the price of paper products was increased by 15-20 per cent because of the imposition of taxes and expensive imports of paper and cardboard. According to the All Pakistan Paper Merchants Association, the prices of books and copies increased by 25 per cent.

This means less budget allocation plus high prices of school stationery plus high school fees resulting in a rise in the illiteracy rate as well as school dropouts in addition to a slump in the female literacy rate.

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