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.