PESHAWAR, May 3: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to enhance its budget for education sector from two per cent to four per cent of the gross domestic product in the next financial year.
The decision was made during a meeting of the provincial cabinet here on Thursday with Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti in the chair.
During a media briefing afterwards, information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain declared the proposed increase in education budget a landmark in the province’s history and said the government would allocate Rs64 billion for education in the 2012-13 budget.
“The government is fulfilling its commitment to spending four per cent of GDP on education. Many countries in the world are already doing so,” he said, adding that his government was committed to achieving targets set in the UN Millennium Development Goals towards universal primary education by 2015.
The minister said illiteracy was the root cause of extremism and poverty in the society and these issues could be resolved through putting in place solid educational network. He added that his government had already focused on education and developed linkages among universities, colleges and schools in the province.
According to him, the cabinet approved establishment of Institute of Peace and Conflict Management Sciences on a proposal floated in July 2009.
Mr Iftikhar said initially, the institute would offer bachelor’s and master’s courses to encourage and attract researchers into peace and conflict management sciences and later, it would introduce M Phil and PhD courses. He said donors would be approached for funding the project.
The minister said the cabinet discussed recommendations of the special committee tasked with proposing reforms for religious seminaries.
He said the committee set up in March 2010 was to formulate recommendations on whether a separate department was needed to be established for registration, monitoring and provision of grant-in-aid for seminaries.
Mr Iftikhar said the government had already discussed the committee’s recommendations with scholars and ulema of all schools of thought and got their consent to them.
He said the cabinet also approved the proposed amendment to Sarhad Hydro Development Organisation Act, 1993, and its tabling in the provincial assembly today (Friday) in the shape of Pakhtunkhwa Hydel Development Organisation (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The amendment, he said, proposed induction of six more members to the SHDO board of directors whose current strength was seven and that an executive committee work under it and the energy minister head it as chairman.
The minister said the cabinet also approved budget strategy for 2012-13 in which it was highlighted that despite serious monetary challenges and insurgency, the government spent Rs200 billion on development projects in the province over the last four years.
According to him, the cabinet also decided that all line departments would receive ‘output-based budget’, which was to improve services delivery in health and education at district level.
“Decision of the committee, which proposed that 20 per cent of the total revenue generated from forests, will be spent on development of forests in the province. The environment department will discuss management system of forest development fund,” he said.
Mr Iftikhar said participants also discussed the government employees’ group insurance scheme and the relevant committee’s recommendations in this respect. He said the meeting was informed that the scheme was being drafted and would be submitted to the cabinet for approval after the next budget.