Political Patronage: Pakistan School Enrollment Rate Flat Despite Increased Education Spending

Data shows that Pakistan's literacy and enrollment rates are not rising in spite of significantly increased education spending over the last several years. Education budgets at federal and provincial levels have seen double digit increase of 17.5% a year on average since 2010. And yet, school enrollment and literacy rate have remained essentially flat during this period.  This lack of progress in education stands in sharp contrast to the significant improvements in outcomes seen from increase education spending during Musharraf years in 2001-2008. Why is it?

Is the money not being spent honestly and wisely? Is the education budget being used by the ruling politicians to create teacher jobs solely for political patronage? Are the teachers not showing up for work? Is the money being siphoned off by bureaucrats and politicians by hiring "ghost teachers" in "ghost schools"? Let's try and examine the data and the causes of lack of tangible results from education spending.

Pakistan Education Budget:

The total money budgeted for education by the governments at the federal and provincial levels has increased from Rs. 304 billion in 2010-11 to Rs. 790 billion in 2016-17, representing an average of 17.5% increase per year since 2010.



Education and Literacy Rates:

Pakistan's net primary enrollment rose from 42% in 2001-2002 to 57% in 2008-9 during Musharraf years. It has been essentially flat at 57% since 2009 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Similarly, the literacy rate for Pakistan 10 years or older rose from 45% in 2001-2002 to 56% in 2007-2008 during Musharraf years. It has increased just 4% to 60% since 2009-2010 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Pakistan's Human Development: 

Human development index reports on Pakistan released by UNDP confirm the ESP 2015 human development trends.Pakistan’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.537— which is in the low human development category—positioning the country at 146 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2013, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.356 to 0.537, an increase of 50.7 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.25.

Pakistan HDI Components Trend 1980-2013 Source: Human Development Report 2014


Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

Bogus Teachers in Sindh:

In 2014, Sindh's provincial education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that "a large number of fake appointments were made in the education department during the previous tenure of the PPP government" when the ministry was headed by Khuhru's predecessor PPP's Peer Mazhar ul Haq. Khuhro was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying that "a large number of bogus appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff had been made beyond the sanctioned strength" and without completing legal formalities as laid down in the recruitment rules by former directors of school education Karachi in connivance with district officers during 2012–13.

Ghost Schools in Balochistan:

In 2016, Balochistan province's education minister Abdur Rahim Ziaratwal was quoted by Express Tribune newspaper as telling his provincial legislature that  “about 900 ghost schools have been detected with 300,000 fake registrations of students, and out of 60,000, 15,000 teachers’ records are unknown.”

Absentee Teachers in Punjab:

A 2013 study conducted in public schools in Bhawalnagar district of Punjab found that 27.5% of the teachers are absent from classrooms from 1 to 5 days a month while 3.75% are absent more than 10 days a month. The absentee rate in the district's private schools was significantly lower. Another study by an NGO Alif Ailan conducted in Gujaranwala and Narowal reported that "teacher absenteeism has been one of the key impediments to an effective and working education apparatus."

Political Patronage:

Pakistani civilian rule has been characterized by a system of political patronage that doles out money and jobs to political party supporters at the expense of the rest of the population. Public sector jobs, including those in education and health care sectors, are part of this patronage system that was described by Pakistani economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the man credited with the development of United Nation's Human Development Index (HDI) as follows:

"...every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together." 

Summary:

Education spending in Pakistan has increased at an annual average rate of 17.5% since 2010. However, the school enrollment and literacy rates have remained flat and the human development indices are stuck in neutral.  This is in sharp contrast to the significant improvements in outcomes from increased education spending seen during Musharraf years in 2001-2008. An examination of the causes shows that the corrupt system of political patronage tops the list. This system jeopardizes the future of the country by producing ghost teacher, ghost schools and absentee staff to siphon off the money allocated for children's education.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Myths and Facts on Out-of-School Children

Who's Better For Pakistan's Human Development? Musharraf or Politicians? 

Corrosive Effects of Pakistan's System of Political Patronage

Development of Pakistan's Human Capital

Asian Tigers Brought Prosperity; Democracy Followed

Musharraf Accelerated Growth of Pakistan's Human and Financial Capital

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Fresh corporate investments (in India) grew at the slowest pace since 1992 in the 2016-17 financial year
Analysts said a poor demand in the economy and banks’ reluctance to lend to new projects had led to this decline.

https://scroll.in/latest/843180/fresh-corporate-investments-grew-at-the-slowest-pace-since-1992-in-the-2016-17-financial-year

Fresh investments by the corporate sector in the financial year 2016-17 grew at the slowest pace since 1992, Business Standard reported on Saturday. In FY 2017, the combined capital expenditure by the country’s top 1,000 non-financial firms, in terms of revenue, was up by just 5.8% – the previous low of capital expenditure growth was recorded in 1999.

Analysts said this decline was because of poor demand in the economy and banks’ reluctance to lend to new projects.

“It’s in line with a near – collapse in banks’ credit growth in the last fiscal year,” said G Chokkalingam, founder and managing director, Equinomics Research and Advisory. “Public sector banks have put a virtual freeze on fresh lending to risky projects, fearing bad loans hitting funding for large industrial projects.”

Fresh investments, worth Rs 2.07 lakh crore, by the top 1,000 companies in the last fiscal was down from Rs 2.9 lakh crore in FY16 and an all-time high of Rs 5.7 lakh crore in FY14.

The drought, led by domestic private companies, is in complete contrast to their past behavior, an analysis of a common sample of listed companies suggested. The capex growth registered by private sector companies is also the slowest in 12 years.

The incremental capex by listed private companies was Rs 2.15 lakh crore in 2016. It nearly halved to around Rs 1.1 lakh crore in the last financial year. The amount is a third of a record high reached in 2012 and the lowest in 10 years.
Chadrahaas said…
Banks cannot continue to operate as they were letting dud loans pile up. The RBI raised intra interest rates to counter it. Short term pain but long term economic climate will be enhanced
Riaz Haq said…
Burying Dar-nomics. #Pakistan #PMLN #PPP #Corruption #Taxes #Exports #Industry #Economy Sakib Sherani

https://www.dawn.com/news/1352190

Here is a snapshot of PML-N’s economic policies in numbers.

On top of these new taxation measures, the government has been withholding refunds of businesses of around Rs150bn to Rs200bn while collecting advance tax to bolster its revenue performance under the IMF programme. Measures such as the foregoing in particular, including the levying of sales tax of up to 52pc on high speed diesel, a main stay input for the entire economy, have been particularly damaging for industry.

In terms of borrowing, the government’s debt-accumulation since 2013 has pushed up total public debt from nearly Rs14.5 trillion in FY13 to around Rs21.5tr by June 2017 — adding Rs7tr in just four years. More worryingly, the PML-N government has contracted new foreign loans of nearly $40bn in four years, an unprecedented amount, pushing total public external debt outstanding in net terms (after repayments), from $51bn in June 2013 to $62bn at the end of March 2017.

Under the third leg of economic policy under Mr Dar, the exchange rate has appreciated 26pc in real effective terms since December 2013 — hurting exports while giving a boost to all manner of imports including non-essential consumer and luxury items. In addition, the overvalued exchange rate has acted as a spur to capital flight from the country.

A combination of unaddressed structural challenges from the past, and Mr Dar’s policy framework since 2013, has resulted in Pakistan’s export sector (manufactured goods) shrinking to 6.9pc of GDP from around 14pc in the mid-2000s.

So the first order of business for the new PML-N prime minister should be to undo the punishing taxation burden on industry imposed by Mr Dar’s policies, and to rectify the policy framework in ways that will boost industry, in particular exports, in the long run. With Pakistan no more sleepwalking into a balance of payments crisis but sliding into one (even with international oil prices at around $50!), the government’s policy space and options are becoming limited. It, or its successor, will need to begin talking to the IMF for a new loan programme sooner rather than later, which will curtail freedom of movement for introducing industry- and investment-friendly policies.

However, some immediate concrete policy measures to reduce the cost of doing business in the country (on the taxation side), combined with a strong signal that the PML-N government is moving away from Mr Dar’s damaging economic policies, will be welcome as well as hopeful news for Pakistani industry.

Tailpiece: Thank God for the PPP government in Sindh! In a huge service to real democracy, its uninterrupted misrule since 2008 has buried some apologetic myths forwarded since the July 28 Supreme Court ruling to ‘defend’ the pathetic non-performance of political governments.

With the military commanding the heights in foreign and security policy, and not in terms of economic governance, it cannot be blamed if Thari children die each year due to lack of medicines in public hospitals, or if roads in Larkana are in a shambles, or there are heaps of uncollected garbage in Karachi. With around Rs2,100bn transferred to Sindh from the centre since 2013 under the National Finance Commission awards, in addition to the nearly Rs200bn tax collected by Sindh itself over this period, the issue is not even of money.

It boils down to corruption pure and simple. Large-scale, pervasive and systemic corruption has been widely documented as the undoing of many resource-rich but underdeveloped countries, particularly in Africa, which have no civil-military imbalances to worry about. Regular, ongoing attempts to shift the blame from bad governance and grand corruption (political sleaze) to tensions in civil-military relations are disingenuous as well as a disservice.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Launched Annual Status Of Education Report (ASER)

https://www.researchsnipers.com/pakistan-launched-annual-status-education-report-aser/


The United Kingdom strongly supports ASER, this is the only citizen-led independent assessment of Education and it is also an important tool for citizen’s accountability. We as DFID have been supporting ASER since its launch years ago, and we will continue to support the cause for better of the society, said Joanna Reid while addressing the panelists.

The number of out-of-the-school children has dropped significantly from 25 million to 22 million according to the government data. However, it’s still not enough, there is a lot more to be done. We should not compromise on access to schools, our main focus should be on improving quality, the education budget was increased this year which is a good sign towards development but still short in achieving targets, from 2.83% of GDP the budget allocation this year was 3.02%, Joanna added.

Education and economic development are correlated with each other, economic growth in Pakistan heavily relies on education, Pakistan has a larger segment of population which is aged between 10 to 24 years according to population Council, 61 million young people can really make a difference if they are equipped with required education and skills, if half of them are not, Pakistan will not be able to meet its workforce needs in the future to continue economic growth, she said.

The ASER meeting was organized by Idra-e-Taleem-o-Agahi with other partners of ASER in Serena Hotel. Key personalities from Federal government Education department, National Assembly, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics and Human Rights Activists were among the Panelists.

Riaz Haq said…
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > PAKISTAN
ASER Survey 2016: More students enrolling in public schools in ICT
https://tribune.com.pk/story/1472658/aser-survey-2016-students-enrolling-public-schools-ict/

Even as the government enhanced the education budget and is seen to be making concerted efforts to boost school enrollment in the country, the proportion of out-of-school children is still the same when compared to 2015.

This was stated in Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016 national survey report launched on Wednesday.

The seventh version of the citizen-led household-based survey, managed by the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in partnership with a number of key civil society and semi-autonomous bodies including the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) and others, found that 19% of children between the ages of 6-16 are still out-of-school. The remaining 81% which are attending school are not learning much either.

The ASER rural survey assessed 216,365 children between the ages of 5-16 years cohort in language (Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto, English), and Arithmetic competencies.

The report noted that almost all parts of Pakistan including Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) recorded some increase in enrollment figures from 1.4% to 4.5%.

However, at the same time, there was a considerable shift from public to private schools in most parts of the country.

The ASER 2016 rural results showed that 26% of children between the ages 6-16 years of age go to non-state schools. This was up from 24% last year.

Only the Punjab and the Islamabad Capital Territory registered a positive shift in enrollment in public schools.

Early Childhood Education (ECE) in rural parts of Pakistan has been on a declining trend, falling from 39% in 2014 to 36% in 2016.

Overall, government schools have witnessed a fall of 7.5% (63% overall) in enrollment for ECE, while the private sector continues to hold a 37% slice of total enrollment.

“There are 61 million young people in Pakistan aged 10 to 24 years as per the estimates of Population Council. Their ability and skills will play a major role in making Pakistan prosperous and a successful player in global economy,” said head of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Joanna Reid at the launch of the report.

“If half of them [youngsters] are not equipped to do their job, Pakistan will not be able to meet the workforce needs of its economy.”

Dipping competencies

The report further notes that student competencies, especially in learning English, Arithmetic, and other languages have dipped.

As many as 48% of children from class V cannot read a class-II-level-story written in Urdu, Sindhi or Pashto.

In English, only 46% Class V students surveyed could read sentences, which should ideally be read by students of the second grade. Arithmetic learning levels too showed a decline with only 48% of class V children able to complete a two-digit division, something which is expected in the second grade.

The report revealed that only AJK showed substantial improvement in English and Arithmetic with 17% and 29% respective increase from 2015 results.

Punjab registered a solitary increase in Arithmetic learnings over scores from 2015. The survey further showed that children enrolled in private schools continued to perform better as compared to those studying in government-run schools. As many as 66% of children enrolled in Class-V in private schools were able to read a story written in Urdu, Sindhi or Pashto.

The difference in learning levels for English was starker with 65% of grade V students able to read a class-II-level sentence.

For arithmetic, 64% of children enrolled in class V could complete a two-digit division. While the gap was narrower in some provinces, the gap was a consistent feature.

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