LAHORE: The Punjab government needs two more years to implement one of its ‘high priority’ programmes of reconstructing dangerous school buildings in province, despite labeling it a “Strategic Interventions” in 2014, a highly placed Planning Department source reveals.
The sources told that Punjab government had urgently prepared a high priority strategy by allocating Rs 8.519 billion in 2015 and called to action, a Strategic Interventions for Reconstruction of dangerous school buildings for better school infrastructure. However, the children attending the schools with dangerous building still await for the approval of Rs 4.071 billion in funds.
A document available with Pakistan Today reveals that the Punjab government had made targets in 2014 to provide missing facilities in 7,500 of schools in Punjab by setting objectives of Education sector in the shape of “Re -Launch of Chief Minister’s Reforms Road Map – 2018 Goals”.
Priorities of the education sector include 100 per cent enrollment of all children of school-going age, retention of all enrolled students up to 5-16 years, gender parity, an international standard infrastructure in schools, merit based recruitment of teachers, and incentives for good performance coupled with access to quality education.
The programme had been titled – ‘Strategic Interventions Provision of Missing Facilities in Schools and Improving Level of Education”. According to the strategy, re-construction and rehabilitation of dangerous buildings of schools was of the foremost priority. Under this initiative, about 859 completely dangerous buildings and 3,868 partially dangerous buildings of schools were to be re-constructed. ‘This is the new initiative of the government for providing better and conducive environment to the students’, the document reads.
In addition the Punjab government had set it targets for the fiscal year 2015-16 for provision of IT labs in 990 secondary schools/higher secondary schools with the highest enrollment, provision of 2,500 additional classrooms in schools with the highest enrollment in Punjab and reconstruction of 4,727 of dangerous school buildings in Punjab.
Whereas, the Development Programme 2017-18 points out that the reconstruction of dangerous school buildings in Punjab needs funds of 4 billion, which are yet to be approved.
Documents show that despite an allocation of Rs 41.348 billion in fiscal year 2016-17 and Rs 53.36 billion in 2017-18, enrollment in primary school has more or less flat-lined over the past decade. Gross and net enrollment rates for both primary and middle school saw an increase between 2005 and 2010, but have stayed more or less constant thereafter. More importantly, gross enrollment rates for middle and secondary school still remain low at 62 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively, in 2016.
Documents indicate that children from the poor families continue to face the worst, particularly in rural areas. By 2017, for example, 74.7 per cent of girls aged 5-9 in the top quintile in rural areas were enrolled in primary schools, compared with only 42.7 per cent in the bottom quintile.
Similarly, 34.4 per cent of girls aged 10-12 in the top quintile in rural areas were enrolled in middle school. Their peers in the bottom quintile, in contrast, had a net enrollment rate of only 6.8 per cent.