As Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) completes its term, now is the time to analyze and evaluate its performance in the education sector, often claimed to be the foremost priority by the PTI-led KP government.Whenever the PTI’s provincial government presented budgets during the last five years, the party’s chief and leaders insisted that their government has allocated the biggest share of the budget and Annual Development Programme (ADP) for education. It is believed there is a direct relationship between the commitment of political leadership to education and the allocation of money for the sector and the more this commitment of leadership, the more the allocation and administrative efforts for education.If more budgetary allocation means more commitment to education on part of political leadership, then the continuous decline of budgetary allocation for education and its percentage in the entire KP ADP/budget by the PTI-led government vis-à-vis its preceding governments means the PTI has not been fair to its claim that it gives top priority to education. The party’s achievements during the period could have been better if instead of thinly distributing money over numerous schemes; the government had focused on allocating funds to the areas that needed them mostThough, for inflation and as is the norm, the total outlay of the budgets and ADPs has risen, the allocation for education and its percentage in ADP/total budget has been on the decline since the PTI took power in 2013-14.Although, PTI leaders persistently claim their government has allocated the biggest portion of the budget for education, however, figures from the budget papers reveal PTI has been disappointing in this regard. The total allocation (current+ development budget) for education in the last budget of the ANP-led government, which didn’t claim giving education top priority as vociferously as PTI, was 27 percent of the total provincial budget. On the other hand, in the first budget of the PTI government which claimed according top priority to the sector, it rose slightly to 27.9 percent. But it came down to 26.4 percent and 24.5 percent in the next two years. The share again slightly went up to 26.3 percent in 2016-17 but is now 24.5 percent in the ongoing year 2017-18 as the PTI government has not been able to present the budget for the next fiscal year unlike the federal and other provincial governments.Moreover, the decline would have been enormous had the foreign component of ADP not risen sharply. Foreign share in the current ADP has gone up by 127 percent to Rs 82 bn (39 percent of ADP) from Rs 36 bn (22 percent) last year. The sector has Rs 6.7 bn in the foreign ADP this year.The PTI leaders claim ‘a record budget allocation’ for the sector by giving the figures of total education budget (current+ development) while hiding the fact that the sector warrants hefty current (salary and administrative) budget for being the biggest department of KP in terms of human resource and infrastructure — out of the total KP employees of over 0.5 million, around 55 percent belong to this department. It will be pertinent to state that budget for education in 2017-18 is Rs148bn (of which Rs 127.9 bn is for current expenditure and Rs 20.32,bn is for ADP) against Rs 132,bn (Rs 111 bn current+ Rs 21 development) in 2016-17.In its first budget, PTI raised the total outlay of education ADP to Rs 29.7bn against Rs22bn of Awami National Party-led KP government’s last budget in 2012. But, despite tall claims to the contrary, education ADP dipped to Rs26.1bn, 22.2bn and 21.7bn in the budgets for financial years 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively. In the ongoing budget 2017-18, the smallest of all allocations by the PTI government of Rs20.32bn has been made for 142 projects -98 ongoing and 44 new ones — in the sector.The percent share of education in total ADP also went down. In the last budget of ANP-government in 2012, it was 22.7 percent which was raised to 25.2 percent in 2013 by the PTI’s first budget. However, the percentage was 18.7 percent, 12.7 percent and 13.5 percent from 2014 to 2016 respectively. The percentage stands dismally low at 9.8 percent in the ongoing PTI’s last budget.The throw-forward liability has been on the rise. In the first year of PTI government in 2013-14, the total local provincial and education sector ADP comprised 983 and 97 projects respectively of which ongoing projects were 609 (61 percent of total ADP) and 61 (62 percent of total projects in education) in that order. The total ADP now stands at 1,632 projects in 2017-18 of which 72 percent are ongoing. Total projects in education sector are 142 (98 ongoing and 44 new) so the ongoing projects constitute 69 percent now.The PTI government had declared an education emergency in its first budget. It has had also prepared an Education Sector Plan 2015-20. It has spent around Rs30 billion for development of infrastructure in the educational institutional institutions-14000 new classrooms, 16,000 boundary walls, 11,000 electrification, 16,000 drinking water, 20,000 washrooms and 6,000 solar energy schemes have been provided.It has also arranged for less political interference in transfers/appointments, merit-based induction, improved staff attendance through independent monitors and bio-metric attendance, play-areas in schools, technology and science initiative in schools, autonomy budget to schools and Rs145mn has been given as awards to teachers and principals of government schools for better results and performance.However, the party’s achievements during the period could have been better if rather than thinly distributing money over numerous schemes, the government could have focussed on/allocated funds to limited areas/schemes to ensure timely completion of schemes against the present strategy where meagre funds are spent in phases on numerous projects with the result that no full-blown development initiatives are seen and the throw forward liability has been consistently going up during its tenure.“Though sufficient funds have been allocated for the sector for years now but, for lack of clear vision, these have been wasted. Increase in funds is not the only solution. Increase in funds and their judicious utilization both are vital. And the judicious use of funds can only be ensured by professionals. If we intend to make education flourish, we have to make an Elementary and Secondary Education Commission on the lines of HEC and then appoint some professional its head,” opines an academic who wishes anonymity.Gender/regional imbalances and disappointing academic results in the public sector schools are still pestering problems.Alaf Ailaan, an NGO, in its report on the PTI’s performance in the education sector has appreciated the KP government for spending around Rs30 billion on the infrastructure development including construction of classrooms, boundary walls, electrification, drinking water, and washrooms.However, it said: “The challenge of improving learning outcomes of students enrolled in schools across KP needs emergent attention. The data on educational achievement was not as highly developed in KP as in Sindh or Punjab.”As elsewhere in the country, the diverse curriculum taught in the public and private sectors and ‘religious’ madaris is increasing the divide amongst the nation. To promote national cohesion, moderation and tolerance in our society, uniformed curriculum is the need of the hour.The PTI government had vowed to bring a uniformed curriculum across the province and the KP elementary and secondary education. Minister Muhammad Atif Khan had given a tentative date of March 2014 for the purpose but the promise could not materialise.The writer is an academic and freelance columnist. He blogs at www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, June 11th 2018.