The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has wrong priorities when it comes to education. In a recent move, the KP government has diverted funds worth Rs 30 million to the seminary of Moulana Sami-ul-Haq. The mechanism of distribution of funds in education is not equitable at all. Out of the allocated amount, i.e., Rs 1.7 billion, some 700 million rupees have been diverted to Swat district only. Now, this latest move of awarding funds to Sami-ul-Haq’s seminary raises serious questions on the government’s commitment to standardisation of higher secondary schools. This means that funds worth Rs 1 billion are left with the government to upgrade the facilities in the schools of the whole province. Can the provincial government ensure that it can provide all the higher secondary schools all the necessary facilities with Rs 1 billion? It seems impossible, for out of the 406 higher secondary schools, many schools need complete overhauls. It is evident from the selection of 200 such schools where basic facilities like examination halls, electricity, and science laboratories etcetera are missing.

By doing simple mathematical calculations, we know that the government’s allocated Rs4.9 million per school – an amount that might prove not enough for providing schools with basic facilities. It is not the first time that the provincial government has shown such kindness to the seminary. In the previous years as well, the government allocated significant funds for the institution of the late Moulana Sami-ul-Haq. The rationale that the provincial authorities provided then was the promise of the seminary to undergo reforms. Has the religious academy undergone any of the promised reforms at all? Has the provincial authorities made any inspections in that regard? If yes, why did the concerned authorities not release any report? The provincial government must answer all these questions before bestowing further funds on the religious school.

It is an unfortunate reality that the present government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) does not know the art of budget making. Nor does it give any thought to the fact that the haphazard diversion of funds from one sector to another seriously hampers all the development programs in a particular sector. While the standardisation of the Government Higher Secondary Schools initiative was launched during the previous tenure of PTI in the KP province, the re-appropriation of the funds will further delay the process even when these schools need urgent intervention from the state. Cutting a long story short, one can say that the move was completely unnecessary given that the economy is under severe pressures. When the central leadership of PTI is boasting about adopting austerity measures, allocating Rs 30 million to Sami-ul-Haq’s religious school at the cost of government schools is beyond comprehension.