Research on public schools money in Punjab indicates infringement of right to education
“Following the School Paisa”, a research study launched by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), has revealed that around 97 percent students are still paying monthly fee in public schools despite the slogan of free education for all by the Punjab government.
The study has been completed by using Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS) in districts of Jhang and Toba Tek Singh. It further reveals that due to the insufficient educational funds by the government, the schools generate more than 50 per cent of the resources on their own.
The public schools charge Rs 20 per student per month to the Education Promotion Fund, commonly known as Farogh-e-Taleem Fund (FTF), by which 99 per cent of the schools in Jhang generate 60.7 per cent of their total income.
District Jhang is one of the low performing districts of Punjab in terms of education and has a primary net enrolment rate of 52 per cent for girls and 58 per cent for the boys while in Toba Tek Singh, the secondary schools are equipped with most of the basic educational facilities and infrastructure, but many of the primary and elementary schools are deprived of such basic facilities including furniture for teachers and students, drinking water, washrooms, sports equipment, computer labs etc.
Parents in both districts had to bear out-of-pocket expenditures on account of admission fee, examination fee, maintenance fund, stationery cost, student-fund, school leaving fee and many more which is the clear infringement of Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan.
The analysis of the budgetary data shows leakage of 38 per cent and 2 per cent in the non-salary budget for the FY 2009-10 and 2011-12 respectively. Similarly, 2.86 per cent leakage was observed in the resources of primary schools in FY 2012-13 in Toba Tek Singh.
Both studies covered various dimensions, which include tracking budgetary allocation and leakages, looking for the available facilities and the level of satisfaction of parents, the income and expenditure of the schools, information about the school councils, monitoring and evaluation mechanism, and income and expenditure patterns of schools among others in Jhang and Toba Tek Singh.
CPDI Program Manager Raja Shoaib Akbar emphasised that government should make efforts to provide missing facilities, especially in primary schools and increase the allocation for operation expenditure of schools up to 12 per cent of the current budget.
Akbar said that the district government should issue orders to the school management authorities to ensure the implementation of “Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2014” and make sure that the students are not charged for education by any means, hence avoiding the violation of the act as well as Article 25-A of the Constitution.