Pakistan Youth Change Advocates (PYCA) recently held an expert consultation ahead of the publication of its white paper, “Public Investment in Education: An Appraisal of SDG-4 in Pakistan.” The upcoming white paper and the consultation were part of the organization’s #InvestinEducationStrengthenPakistan campaign. Educationists, public finance experts and members of the civil society participated in this consultative session.
Earlier this year PYCA had published a white-paper, “Public Investment in Education: Covid-19 and other emergencies in the past.” which highlighted the dismal state of education financing in the country. The paper had pointed-out lacunas in the country’s current budgeting process and emphasized the need to address these gaps to create more fiscal space to enhance public investment in education and other social services.
The organization will now publish a second white paper in the same series focusing on Pakistan’s performance vis-à-vis Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, i.e., quality education. The research paper that is slated to publish in September 2021 analyzes the key areas of intervention if Pakistan so desires to achieve the various targets laid down under SDG 4 by the year 2030.
Author of the paper and public finance expert, Mr. Asim Bashir Khan while presenting the key findings and recommendations of the research to audience said, “Both the federal and provincial governments understand the fact that the current state of public investment in education is not up to the required mark. This is evident from the majority of the sector plans as well as the Vision 2025 document which pledges to allocate 4% of the GDP to education. However, in actuality Pakistan has been unable to allocate more than 2.5% of its GDP in the last 20 years. The COVID crises have led to a further decline in public investment in education with merely 1.5% of GDP being allocated for education in the fiscal year 2020 – 21.”
Shedding light on the urgency of the situation, Former Chairman FBR Dr. Muhammad Irshad commented, “Unfortunately, the situation of education in Pakistan paints a sad story. On one hand the government has been unable to prioritize investment in education and on the other hand, a huge disparity remains rampant between the educational opportunities provided to boys and girls at the community level.”
Commenting on the legislative side of the dilemma, Marium Amjad of AWAZ CDS shared, “In general practice we immediately jump from legislation to implementation. However, there are many steps in between these two milestones that dictate whether or not a law will be implemented.” Citing the example of Punjab she said, “The Free and Compulsory Education was passed in the province in 2014. However, to date it cannot be implemented because it has neither been notified by the provincial government nor has its rules of business been formalized.”
Pakistan currently has the second largest population of out-of-school children in the world with the majority of these out-of-school children being girls.