Provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) had promised to provide basic facilities to all the government-run schools throughout the province by the end of 2017. Basic facilities included clean drinking water, toilets, electricity and boundary wall.
After general election in 2013, Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) came to power in KP. Situation of education, at that time, was very pathetic as previous governments had been not much attentive towards this sector.
Along with lack of teaching/non-teaching staff, ghost teachers and ghost schools in the province, lack of basic facilities was another grave problem the operational schools faced. There were thousands of schools in the province which faced lack of water, toilet, electricity and boundary walls.
According to documents of Elementary and Secondary Education Department (ESED), in 2013, more than 37 percent schools were without safe drinking water, 29 percent lacked bathroom, 51 percent schools were without electricity, 34 percent without proper boundary walls.
Lack of basic facilities in schools, according to educationists, is one of the major reasons students’ dropout. Most of parents won’t send their children to schools after primary level (especially in case of females) if the school lacks facilities like toilet and boundary wall.
PTI, for that matter, soon after taking power, claimed to have declared education emergency to bring ‘revolutionary improvement’ in education sector. It claimed the education sector as one of its top priorities, along with health and other sectors, to be focused on.
After the taking the position, the provincial government claimed to initiate work on war footings to tackle with the critical situation of the education sector.
The Government claimed that it would provide the much-needed basic facilities to primary, high and higher secondary schools throughout the province by the end of 2017 – before the start of the election year.
Education Minister Atif Khan, while presiding the official meetings time and again and in media talks, had claiming that government would be able to resolve the issue of basic facilities by the end of 2017.
Documents available with Truth Tracker by ESED shows that there has been a noticeable improvement in the provision of basic facilities in schools since 2013, the promise of provision of all basic facilities to all the schools by the end of 2017, however could not be fulfilled.
Recent report released by Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) in November 2017 indicates that 16 percent of schools in the province are still without clean drinking water, five percent lack toilets, 23 percent are without power while five percent are without boundary walls. Kohistan in this regard is most ill-fated as it is lying at the bottom of the list. A little up in the list are Torghar, Dir Bala and Shangla.
One of the first things government had to do to tackle with the ramshackled education sector in the province, was to allocate a substantial budget so as to reflect its promise of education on the top of its priorities list.
The provincial government thus in its first budget of 2013-14 allocated Rs 84.629 billion for education sector. In budget 2012-13, the allocated amount for the same sector was 63.688 billion by its predecessor ANP-led government.
In next budget of 2014-15 the allocation was increased to Rs 93.611 billion. Similarly, the allocation escalated to Rs. 104.252 billion in 2014-15 budget, despite the formation of local government in 2015, which was supposed to be allocated 30 percent (Rs.148 billion) out of total Rs.487 billion budget. The government, however managed to keep the pace of increasing budget allocation every year, intact.
In the year 2016-17 the amount allocated was Rs 118.7 billion, while in budget 2017-18 (current budget) Rs.136.94 billion have been allocated.
Regarding the expenditures on the provision of basic facilities in schools, Chief Planning Officer at ESED Idrees Azam while talking to Truth Tracker said that during the last four years (2013-2017), government had spent 29.11 billion. The amount was spent on provision of facilities to 24,000 schools throughout the province which include construction of boundary walls in 14348 schools, group latrines to 17345 schools, water supply to 12198 schools, electrification/solarisation of 10550 schools along with construction of additional classrooms.
ESED’s documents indicate that the pace of ANP government in its five-year tenure in the same regard was comparatively slow as boundary walls were built in 1369 schools, toilets in 2065 schools. Similarly, provision of safe drinking water to 1987 and electrification of 1467 schools was completed.
After 2013, Azam said, a total of 561 dysfunctional schools in the province had been made operational which were closed for years due to lack of any of basic facilities, staff or shortage of funds.
He said that although ESED has not been able to complete the provision of basic facilities by the end of 2017 but it aims to do so in 2018. “We’re working diligently and we’re sure to easily and completely overcome the issue by mid of this year.”
‘District Education Rankings 2017’ released by Alif Ailaan shows that KP has secured eight out of first 10 positions in infrastructure slot on primary level. While on middle in the same slot level KP secured two out of first 10 positions.
An official at education department who wished not to be named, said that provision of better facilities was one of the main reasons that 160,411 students migrated from the private schools to government schools in 2016-2017 alone.
Malik Masood, Program Manager at Centre for Governance and Public Accountability, a non-profit organization working to improve governance, said that government could not realize it’s claim to completely provide basic facilities by the end of year 2017.
Progress in this regard, although has been way better as compared to governments in the past but still there is much more to be done, he said. There are thousands of schools in the province operating without basic facilities. Even in the provincial capital there are many such schools, let alone in the far-flung areas, he added.
Masood said that with the same pace and commitment, it’s impossible to completely achieve the target within its tenure, as being promised by government.
“Provincial government needs to work on war footings to overcome the issues of the ramshackled education sector,“ he concluded.
PTI Government falls short of providing basic facilities in schools, therefore the promise stands compromised.