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Education budget has exposed govt: analysts

Pakistani education budget Karachi, June 2008: Academicians on Friday expressed their grave concern over the allocation of inadequate budget for education sector in the new fiscal year and said that insufficient budget for higher education sector has exposed the priorities of the federal government as it has earmarked Rs 24.6 billion for this sector in the federal budget for 2008-09, which is just Rs100 million more than last year's.
They said that the trained human resource and development in education and science & technology sectors only could alleviate the poverty, while the issuance of Rs 1,000 to underprivileged people on account of income support allowance is useless in context of alleviating poverty in the country.

The Higher Education Commission was not given an emblematic increase, as only Rs 15 billion has been allocated for this sector; in this situation public universities may suffer shortage of funds even in term of providing salaries to their staff.

Karachi University Teachers Society General Secretary Prof Dr Abid Hasnain has termed the current education budget disappointing for the academicians, and said that Rs100 million increase in education budget was nothing but optical illusion. He pointed out, "The government has increased salaries of government employees by 20 per cent; because Rs 100 million will definitely be used in salaries of the employees, which has been increased by 20 per cent.

There is no doubt about that the current budget has been decreased than the last budget, which shows that education is not in our priority. Talking about the budget for higher education sector, he said that the budget for higher education has shown that the government was not sincere with promotion of higher education sector.

He said, "No government had paid much attention to the higher education sector in the country during 60 years as higher education has been promoted in the last few years.

I am not agreed with the polices of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) hundred per cent, but the HEC under the leadership of Prof Dr Attaur Reahman has done great job in providing huge funds to public universities on account of development programmes."

It is pertinent to mention here that the higher education sector of country has been threatened by the new policies of the current government as nearly 59 public sector universities are suffering with monetary chomp due to the refusal of the federal finance ministry to release the Higher Education Commission's fourth quarterly instalment of development and recurring grant worth over Rs 8 billion for 2007-08.

Dean Faculty of Science, Karachi University, Prof Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi stressed the need for issuance of special funds for universities, and said that as prices of everything are going up on daily-basis, there was an urgent need to increase budget for education and science and technology sectors. Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association (SPLA) Central President Prof Syed Riaz Ahsan said that the budget could not be termed education friendly, which the budget has discouraged the teachers' community, as the government did not consider the proposal of SPLA, present to the government, demanding hundred percent increase in the salaries of the teachers and their up-gradation in line with universities teachers.

A senior professor at Karachi University, on condition of anonymity, said, "Usually democratic governments do not give priority to sectors of education and science and technology in the country.

However, national political parties make democratic governments, and unfortunately our political parties in short of aware, visionary and devoted leadership. He said we could not expect any positive step towards progress and prosperity from feudal-like politicians.

"Public universities will suffer with the policies of the government; such insufficient budget for higher education will damage research and education environment of the public universities. Under the PSDP, over Rs6.3 billion have been allocated for the education division while the budgetary allocations for different development programmes initiated by the HEC remained at Rs18 billion.

Thousands of students, willing to go abroad for their higher education have been disappointed with government policies towards higher education sector, he said.

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