Thursday, July 6, 2017

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." 


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


Anonymous said...

There is enough bad news. You're suppose to write only good things about Pakistan and bad things about others like India.

Zafar S. said...

Excellent analysis, one more reason I would like add is the portion of education budget are used for personal perks and privilege and misuse of funds, which is ever escalating

Shams S. said...

Pakistan's increase in education spending barely covers the nearly 10% core inflation rate over the period in your blog. Over the last 7 years, real estate costs have quadrupled, so new schools are costlier to build. CPI is out of control - food, transportation, housing, and healthcare costs have nearly quadrupled as well. Salaries had to match.

In contrast, the education budget has only doubled. Using "corruption factor of Sindh" as a constant, it is suprising that the enrollment has stayed level in that province. Basic math.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: " CPI is out of control - food, transportation, housing, and healthcare costs have nearly quadrupled as well. Salaries had to match.......Basic math."

Core Inflation Rate in Pakistan increased 5.50 percent in May of 2017 over the same month in the previous year. Core Inflation Rate in Pakistan averaged 7.69 percent from 2010 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 11.40 percent in June of 2012 and a record low of 3.40 percent in September of 2015.

Even if one accepts your exaggerated 10% annual inflation figure, since when is 17.5% annual education budget increase less than 10%?

And yes, the real estate prices have gone up in urban areas but that's not where the problem is in terms of enrollment; it's mainly in the rural areas where the prices are fairly steady

Shams S. said...

The numbers 17.5% and 10% suggest that the "additional" spending is not as additional as your blog makes it sound. The second part of my comment on your blog was that the entire spending increase is in the Punjab where new universities have been set up and new funding has been provided to existing universities.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "The numbers 17.5% and 10% suggest that the "additional" spending is not as additional as your blog makes it sound. The second part of my comment on your blog was that the entire spending increase is in the Punjab..."

It's obvious you know nothing about how education is funded and managed in Pakistan after the adoption of the 18th amendment.

At the K-12 level, it's entirely in the provincial budget. All of the provinces, including Sindh and Balochistan, have seen big increases in education budget but no improvement in enrollment or literacy rates mainly due to widespread corruption and mismanagement. I have cited examples of mea culpa by Sindh and Balochistan politicians in my post.

As to inflation, the core inflation rate in Pakistan since 2010 has been 7.69% while the budget increases have averaged 17.5%.

NBRX said...

Pakistan dares to reject anything Indian. Here is the Indian Model for Pakistan to try.

From UNESCO standpoint, India also has numerous challenges including ghost teachers. What the government did, and now the Modi Team has spear headed, was to make education and literacy a birthright and then made providing at least one full meal at school mandatory. Two things happened next. Enrollment increased among poor households (low literate group) and problem of teacher absenteeism started vanishing simply because the manpower and monitoring required and the parents would complain if their children were not fed!

Riaz Haq said...

LRH using new technology for attendance, care management

The Lady Reading Hospital, a public sector medical teaching institution of the provincial capital, is taking measures to fully apply the Radio Frequency Identification technology introduced three months ago to ensure the attendance of staff members and effective patient care.

According to the officials in the know, the data of the RFID cards issued to the hospital’s 3,500 employees are being connected to the payment of salary to them.

They told Dawn that the employees won’t be paid salary for their absence from duty without permission.

Initially, the 1,749-bed hospital had introduced biometric system for attendance of staff members but that didn’t achieve the desired results as senior consultants didn’t approve of affixation of thumb to the machine at the time of entry to and exit from the premises considering the act a ‘disgrace’.

However, the new system is gaining currency as the administration is hopeful that the employees are required to show up the card before a screen without requiring them to affix thumb impression on the biometric devices fixed at certain places.

The officials said the authorities found it extremely challenging to regulate the attendance of staff members at the facility due to the visit of 6,000 patients to OPD and 4,000 to accident and emergency department and therefore, it had sought assistance from the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre for the application of the latest technology on the premises spread over 224 kanals of land.

They said the hospital, the city’s oldest and largest health facility in the public sector, offered treatment in 27 specialties, the biggest number in any hospital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, recently closed unnecessary gates to reduce the massive influx of irrelevant visitors and ensure uninterrupted treatment of patients.

When contacted, associate hospital director Mohammad Tariq said the management was in the process of applying information technology to the hospital affairs for which preparations were under way.

“The patients will benefit from the new technology, which will enable them to get speedy investigations, while their results will be displayed on the screens of the computers of the relevant doctors,” he said.

The assistant director said each patient would be issued a card useable everywhere in the province.

“At a later stage, all data will be shared with the director-general (health services) and if the patients visit other hospitals, they will be able to find their whole records there with the help of the card,” he said.

Mr Tariq said the patients wouldn’t be required to walk with a bundle of investigations and X-ray films as all that information could be seen from their cards.

“In this way, we will save X-ray materials. The CT and MRI scans will also be seen using the cards,” he said.

The assistant director said the new system would help the management know about the bed occupancy and location and ensure prompt admission after arrival of patients.

“Though already there in developed countries for years, the integrated technology is a new thing to Pakistan. It ensures efficiency, effectiveness and promptness. More than 60 per cent work on its application has been completed,” he said.

Mr Tariq said the enterprise resource planning was another mechanism the hospital was going to introduce to ensure the optimal utilisation of medicines and other materials.

“When all data is available, we can make evidence-based planning,” he said.

The assistant director said the new technology would enable the hospital to know about number of patients, their diseases, requirements of beds, doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff members.

Hospital director Dr Khalid Masud said the Medical Teaching Institutions Reform Act, 2015, had paved the way for improvement as the hospital was able to take decisions on its own.

Riaz Haq said...

PITB chairman for IT-aided governance reforms in Pakistan

Sharing some of the IT-enabled reforms in Punjab, the PITB chairman said that two major sectors, Police and Provincial Revenue Department, were focused to change the Thana and Pitwari culture in Punjab. This was an uphill task as both systems were given by the British government in the United India to rule here.

The British rulers had empowered Patwari to the extent that it had played with the Fard (document of ownership of rural land) by establishing a parallel economy which need to be broken scientifically. The Fard is an important document for every transaction between the two parties.

Similarly, 26 registers are maintained in a police station and registration of an FIR is in the first register. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC), once an FIR is registered the police have to produce the accused and recovery from him before a court. Thus it empowers the police Moharar that he can register a fake FIR.

These are the issues which need to be understood first before IT enabled reforms to change the Thana and Pitwari culture in Punjab.

Dr Saif said that in land revenue reforms, 24,800 mozaajat (rural land units) have been computerised. This has enabled the public to get E-Fard conveniently. Secondly, Grawadri and Miswai are two other areas of land revenue reforms. The reforms in the sector have also helped the government a lot in the last wheat procurement campaign.

The digital data disclosed that thousands of acres of land were wrongly declared as wheat growing area while no such land existed but the middlemen were selling wheat to government on this land purchased from farmers at lower price.

Furthermore, e-stamp was introduced which increased the land revenue by 30 percent in one fiscal year which depicted that fake stamp papers were being sold and used in land transactions in Punjab....

To change the Thana culture, the PITB first established their front desks in police stations where PITB staff operates to register a complaint while the CPO, CCPO and other top officials in the evening decide whether an FIR should be registered on the complaint or not. This was the step was initiated to change police station culture. Once a complaint is registered in electronic system of the police, the person responsible has to decide about disposal of it within next 72 hours, either by giving a solid justification or registering an FIR on the complaint and forwarding it for further proceedings, Dr Saif said. He said over 1.1 million complaints had been registered in the system so far. He said 850,000 FIRs had been registered using the system.


On student enrolment in schools and "ghost" teachers, Dr Saif said that there was not a single "ghost" teacher in Punjab. ‘Anyone can check school data anytime at where real time live data of schools' students and teachers' attendance and facilities of schools were updated’, he said. Furthermore, if a school shows zero attendance of student or teacher, the deputy commissioner of that area is asked to address the issue. Same system is also replicated in Sindh but, due to administrative issues there, the results were not the same as achieved in Punjab. In Punjab, various disciplinary actions are being taken against the teachers on absence, whereas, no such actions so far have been possible in Sindh yet, he disclosed.

Similarly, in total 143 Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQs) and District Headquarters Hospitals, 786 biometric devices were installed for doctors and allied staff's attendance which increased the attendance from 30 percent to 51 percent. Now the PITB daily makes duty roster and it was pasted in the DHQ and THQ hospitals. Now the attendance has reached 83 percent from 51 percent.

Riaz Haq said...

Burying Dar-nomics. #Pakistan #PMLN #PPP #Corruption #Taxes #Exports #Industry #Economy Sakib Sherani

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...

Post-Panama case Pakistan
Dr Ikramul Haq, Huzaima Bukhari August 27, 2017 Leave a comment

The institutional structure of economy is designed to generate rents for the elite at the expense of the middle classes and the poor. So what is at stake?

The hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes — The Panama Papers: how the world’s rich and famous hide their money offshore [The Guardians, April 3, 2016]
Through the report titled, Panama Papers: Politicians, Criminal & Rogue Industry That Hide Their Cash, some of the crooks of the world — drug dealers, mafias, corrupt politicians and tax evaders — have been exposed. Pakistanis who are part of this undesirable club are unveiled through a year-long investigation project by journalist Umar Cheema in his write-up, Pak politicians, businessmen own companies abroad [The News, April 4, 2016].
Post-Panama case Pakistan is emerging as a dangerous place where the government is openly protecting and patronising the convicted and accused. There is no will to end state-sponsorship of organised crimes. Notorious laws — sections 5 and 9 of the Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992 and section 111(4) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 — are still protecting dirty money, financing of terrorism and encouraging tax evasion. In the presence of such laws, the judiciary has punished the three-time elected prime minister — an unprecedented move that can be a starting point to end mafia-like rule in Pakistan as happened in Colombia after years of power of dirty money muzzling institutions or eliminating those who were not purchasable.


How can we eliminate corruption and tax evasion in Pakistan in the presence of permanent money-laundering and tax amnesty scheme in the form of section 111(4) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 that facilitates the whitening of dirty money and tax evaded funds. It ensures that for money brought into Pakistan through normal banking channels no question would be asked by tax officials or FIA. Through this section, criminals and tax evaders get their undeclared money whitened by paying just an extra 3 to 4 per cent to any money exchange dealer to get remittances fixed in their names.
It is thus clear, brilliantly explained by Dr. Akmal Hussain in Restructuring for economic democracy, that “the institutional structure of Pakistan’s economy is designed to generate rents for the elite at the expense of the middle classes and the poor.” It is this structural characteristic of the economy and not just bribery that prevents sustained high economic growth and equity in Pakistan. Unless we change this structure of economy, the morbid story of corruption and tax evasion will continue. In the presence of these maladies, no decision of Supreme Court can help Pakistan progress and become an egalitarian state.