One of the major educational challenges in Sindh is the high number of out-of-school children in Sindh, which is currently estimated at 6.4 million and amounts to 40 per cent children of the province.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said this on Monday at the CM House while addressing a 38-member delegation of the Foreign Service Academy, comprising diplomats from China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Discussing the current status of school education in the province, the CM said the total enrolment was 4.5 million, of which the enrolment in primary schools was 2.9 million. As many as 1.4 million children in Sindh were studying at private schools, which was 31 per cent of the total enrolment, he said.
Murad said his government had invested Rs44.2 billion in the school education sector during the last five years. He added that 530 schools had been rehabilitated, approximately 519 new school units established and 482 schools upgraded to middle or high schools in Sindh.
He also highlighted educational projects running under public-private partnership in Sindh. Regarding college education, the CM said during the last five years, 53 degree colleges were provided missing facilities, 86 rehabilitated and many others upgraded to degree level.
He maintained that heavy Investment was made in higher education by establishing new universities, campuses and introducing post-graduate courses. A total of 25 new public varsities or new campuses of existing ones were established along with four university colleges for engineering and technology established, he said.
Jobs and businesses
Sindh is the most urbanised province of Pakistan with Karachi, its capital city, being the country’s major financial and trade hub, the CM said. “It [Sindh] generates over 60 per cent of the country’s tax revenue; contributes an over-riding share of oil and gas resources and it is a power house of the country having 175 billion tons of coal and a huge wind corridor that can generate 50,000 megawatts of electricity.”
The CM said despite its rich resources, the overall poverty level in Sindh was high as it had been estimated at around 43 per cent, with 75.5 per cent in rural areas.
Sindh required six to seven per cent annual growth to be able to create over 600,000 jobs in the private sector annually, he maintained. “Public expenditure and investments are expected to be the major driver for growth in the province and the country,” he said, adding that Sindh had prioritised development portfolio, which included improving outcome-based human development, social protection and poverty reduction.
Talking about Ease of Doing Business (EDB), the CM said that is an index published by the World Bank every year at the end of October. “It is an aggregate figure that includes different parameters which define the ease of doing business in a country,” he said, adding that the 2019 report ranked Pakistan at 136 out of 190 countries, which was an improvement of 11 positions from 147 in 2018.
He said his government had worked hard to reform the regulatory atmosphere for ease of doing business to enhance the ranking of Pakistan. Karachi has the weightage of 65 per cent in the ranking, whereas, Lahore is weighted at 35 per cent, he said.
Commenting on improvements in the business environment of the province, Shah said Sindh had put in dedicated efforts in this regard, due to which the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency had reduced the environmental checklists process from 30 to 15 days, the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board had reduced time to provide commercial connections from 61 to 21 days, and the Sindh Building Control Authority had reduced time to grant construction permits from 60 to 30 days.
He added that 50 per cent records in the registries of Karachi had been digitized and the time required to register a property in Karachi had been reduced from 208 days to 17 days, which was a 92 per cent decrease.
He informed the delegation that the provincial investment department had established the Sindh Business Registration Portal with links to provincial and federal departments, including the Sindh Employees’ Social Security Institution, provincial labour, and excise & taxation departments and federal bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, National Database and Registration Authority and others, to enable swift business registration.
The CM said peace in the region was attached with peace in Afghanistan, adding that peace in Afghanistan would usher in new vistas of prosperity in the entire region.
The event was also attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Planning and Development Board Chairperson Nahid Shah, Inspector General of Police Dr Kaleem Imam, Personal Secretary to the CM Sajid Jamal Abro, Home Secretary Kazi Kabir and Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi.