Budget provide an apprehension into the Government’s policy priorities. Education receives a remarkable fragment of Federal and Provincial budgets every year. The government has allocated Rs. 83.3 billion for Education Affairs and Services in the federal budget for 2020–21 against the revised allocation of Rs. 81.2 billion for the ongoing fiscal year, showing an imperceptible rise of around 2.5%. Pakistan’s public expenditure on education as a percentage to GDP is estimated at 2.3% in the fiscal year 2019-20, which is the lowest in the region. Compared to international benchmarks, the allocated budget for education is lowest as of the agreed targets of 15-20% of the total budget and 4% of the GDP. With the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 insight, it is important to note the challenges of limited public financing for education and its efficacy.

Composition of Education Budget:

The government has reserved Rs. 2.931 billion for pre-Primary & Primary Education Affairs for 2020-2 against Rs. 2.83 billion for 2019-20, Rs. 7.344 billion reserved for Secondary Education Affairs & Services for 2020-21 against Rs. 6.718 billion for 2019-20, Rs. 1.237 billion for administration against Rs. 1.407 billion for 2019-20 which was later emended to Rs. 727 million.

According to the Human Development Report, 2019 Pakistan is ranked 152 out of 189 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) ranking. Pakistan has not demonstrated any progress in key educational indicators, such as literacy rate, gross enrolment ratio, and expenditure on education, as compared to the adjoining regional territories.

Pakistan’s literacy rate, at 57%, straggle well behind its bordering countries. The primary school dropout rate is 22.7% which is alarming given it as at the stage of developmental learning. Pakistan has not made a sufficient progress in enhancing the education outcomes. A literacy rate of only 60% (40% of its population remains unable to read or write) significantly restricts the opportunities towards obtaining additional skills and technical knowledge for higher efficiency and finer-earning levels. Gross Enrolment Rates (GER) at the primary level excluding kindergarten for the age group 6-10 years at the national level during 2018-19 persisted at 87% as compared to 2015-16.

Province wise data propose that Punjab manifested an improvement from 93% in 2015-16 to 95% in 2018-19, Sindh remained stable with primary level GER at 78%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa improved to 89% in 2018-19 against 88% in 2015-16, while Balochistan evidenced a reduction from 59% in 2015-16 to 57% in 2018-19.

Net Enrolment Rates (NER) at the national level during 2018-19 moderately enhanced from 65% in 2015-16 to 66% in 2018-19. Punjab speculated a development of 73% in 2018-19 as compared to 71% in 2015-16. Sindh witnessed an improvement of 58% in 2018-19 in contrast to 56%  in 2015-16. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa witnessed a slack from 67% in 2015-16 to 66% in 2018-19, while Balochistan remained steady with primary level NER at 40%.

The allocation of Rs. 150 million for various other initiatives has been earmarked for introducing latest Matric-Tech Pathways for Integrating Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Formal Education. Rs 100 million for provision of Leftover Infrastructure in Islamabad Model College for Girls, Bhara Kahu Islamabad, and Rs 60 million for Pilot Project on Improving Recruitment and On-Boarding of Teachers in FDE (Federal Directorate of Education) Schools is allocated in the budget.

 Budget and Pakistan Alliance for Girls’ Education:

Girls are predominant to Pakistan’s long-term goals to become a successful country and to achieve the SDGs. Pakistan Alliance for Girls Education is committed to support all stakeholders to expand their agendas for girl’s education and to bring them back to schools. The COVID-19 crisis has already affected the status of girls’ education in Pakistan and will have its consequences in the longer run. With education and its quality becoming an increasingly difficult challenge, it is hapless that funds are not being well allocated for underprivileged community, more alarmingly, not being spent to the fullest to get the maximum results.

The government must capitalize approximately Rs6.5 trillion to guarantee that every out-of-school girl in Pakistan has access to formal education by 2030. Currently 22.8 million or 44% children in Pakistan are not enrolled in school, with the dominance of it being girls. Despite the demand and operational supply concerns, the core issue of the execrable state of education in the country has been the appalling investment in the sector. As a signatory of the ‘Education 2030 Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action, 2015,’ Pakistan should disburse at least 4% of its GDP on education, as well as grant at least 15% of its public spending towards education.

Therefore, although education being prdominantly a provincial subject, the burden of the responsibility to rectify the state of education lies mainly on the federal government.  The country cannot overcome its education crisis without securing at least 12 years of education for every Pakistani girl. By allocating at least 6% of the GDP to education Pakistan can then guarantee the development of a structured and improved infrastructure of educational strategies. Financing the human capital, such as education, health and nutrition, are foundation for building a progressive foundation for Human Security.