ISLAMABAD: The government’s allocation of Rs97.098 billion for education affairs and services in the federal budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 has drawn attention and criticism for its modest increase of around 5.5 percent compared to the revised allocation of the current fiscal year.
With Pakistan’s public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP estimated at 1.7 percent for the fiscal year 2022-23, the country holds the lowest regional ranking in terms of education funding. The need for greater investment in the education sector to address the challenges and gaps in quality education has been emphasized by experts and education advocates.
The bulk of the allocated funds, amounting to Rs. 76.589 billion, has been designated for Tertiary Education Affairs and Services, accounting for approximately 79 percent of the total allocation under this category.
Meanwhile, Rs4.468 billion has been earmarked for pre-primary and primary education affairs, representing an increase from the previous year’s allocation. Similarly, Rs10.778 billion has been set aside for Secondary Education Affairs and Services.
The budget also includes a provision of Rs3.698 billion for administration, aimed at supporting the management and coordination of educational institutions. However, concerns have been raised regarding the adequacy of these funds to address the administrative needs and enhance the overall education system.
Since the 18th Constitutional amendment, education has been devolved to the provinces, and the federal government primarily focuses on financing higher education. In line with this, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has been allocated Rs59.71 billion under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the fiscal year 2023-24, reflecting an increase from the previous year’s allocation. This allocation aims to support the development and improvement of higher education institutions across the country.
While the increase in the education budget allocation demonstrates a degree of attention to the sector, the modest growth has raised concerns about the government’s commitment to addressing the pressing challenges in education.
Education advocates stress the need for substantial investments to enhance access, quality, and inclusivity in education, ensuring a brighter future for the country’s youth and sustainable development overall.