Pakistan has lowest ratio of access to higher education: NA told

Pakistan has one of the lowest ratios in the world, of people having access to higher education in the country.

Only 5.1 per cent of people aged 17-23 years are currently enrolled in higher education in Pakistan.

Ministry of Education in a written reply told the National Assembly on Wednesday that significant financial resources are required to increase enrolment in higher education to 10 per cent of the age cohort by 2015.

It was said that the government is negotiating $ 300 million loan with World Bank (WB) to support the implementation of the first phase of higher education development programme as outlined in the second Medium Term Development Framework for Higher Education for 2011-2015 (MTDF-HEII).

The programme aims to ensure fiscal sustainability and effectiveness of expenditure in tertiary education, improve quality and relevance of teaching and research, improve equitable access to tertiary education and strengthen governance and management, it said.

It was said that in terms of item 12 Part-II of the Fourth Schedule/Federal Legislative List under constitution (18th amendment) act 2010, standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institution has been declared a federal subject.

Being a responsibility of the higher education commission, it is essential to have $ 300 million World Bank loan, $ 100 million per year for three years, due to financial crunch at the national level to address the issues of quality and relevance of teaching and research.

It said that World Bank funded IDA loan has been offered to Pakistan at extremely attractive rates and will help alleviate the financial crunch while allowing progress towards implementing the education policy approved by the cabinet.

Meanwhile, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Raza Rabbani informed the House that after the 18th amendment in the constitution the education is a provincial subject.

To another question, the Ministry of education in a written reply said that the government has increased the recurring funds of the universities from Rs. 21.5 billion in 2009-10 to Rs. 29.05 billion in 2010-11.

It, however, said that due to ever increasing enrollment, the Federal Government universities are compelled to enhance the tuition fee during the year 2009-10 to meet the additional expenses such as security consideration and inflation.

To a question the Ministry informed that Pakistan is signatory of several international covenants of education sector.

Parliamentary Secretary for Education Gul Muhammad Jakhrani said that the National Plan of Action on Education for All (2001-15) sets targets for the main three components including increasing overall early childhood education net participation rate to 38 per cent, increasing overall net participation rate at primary level to 91 per cent and increasing overall adult literacy rate to 68 per cent.

He informed the House that due to certain reasons the set targets could not achieved.

It was informed that the overall literacy rate in the country is 57 per cent, Male and female literacy rate is 69 and 45 per cent respectively.

National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) has planned to literate 82,500 adult literacy centers in three years (2009-12) to increase the literacy rate, however so far 26,000 literacy centers have been opened.

It was said that a literacy assessment survey is being conducted to assess the achievement and standards of literacy learners and to improve the quality of literacy programs.