Education sector to secure significant share of 2013 budget
98% increase in the number of students in one decade
According to the draft budget law of 2013 submitted by the Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), 16% of this year’s budget is allocated for the education and higher education sectors.
The most prominent factor behind the sector’s large budget share could be the high number of students, which has increased by 98% since 2003. MP Omar Hawrami, member of the Finance Committee of the Kurdish Parliament, confirmed to the Kurdish Globe that 16% of this year’s budget has been allocated for the education and higher education sectors.
“Currently the region has 1.669 million students,” stated MP Hawrami. KRG Ministry of Education reports show that from the year 2003 till the beginning of 2013 the number of students has increased by 826 thousand students, which is almost twice the number of 2003.
The main aspects considered in budgeting for the education sector include, school outbuildings, teachers and staff, as well as the number of students.
This rapid increase has placed great pressure on the Region’s budget. To help find a solution for this issue, the education committee of the parliament has suggested that the government builds large and modern schools for a number of villages near each other, for which the education ministry can provide staff and buses while the Ministry of Reconstruction and Housing can pave the roads between the schools and the beneficiary villages.
As per statistics of the KRG, the rate of building of schools has increased by 81% since 2003, with a total number of new schools reaching 2,641.
A letter from the Ministry of Planning shows that the government has started a campaign for building schools in 2009, for which it had allocated IQD 150 billion (approximately US$ 120 million) for building a total of 100 modern schools.
Since the beginning of 2007 till the end of 2012, KRG Ministry of Educa- tion has hired about 36 thousand teachers of various grades from kindergarten to high school.
The increase in the number of teachers during the past decade has been the fastest in the sector with an increase as high as 121%. This means that during the past decade a total of 54,288 teachers have joined the crew of the Education Ministry.
Moreover, the government approved an increase of IQD 150 thousand (approximately US$125) to the monthly salary of all the teachers and staff of the Ministries across Kurdistan.
Since the total number of teachers in Kurdistan is about 100 thousand, the total budget for this increase is roughly IQD 17.8 billion (approximately US$ 14.8 million) per year for the teachers alone, not including other staff of the ministry.
According to a report by the Education minis- try, the illiteracy rate was 34% in 2004. This number, according to figures from the same ministry, has dropped to 16% in 2013. Moreover, the KRG has a long-term plan to push this rate down to 7% by the end of 2015. The ministry estimates the cost of schooling for one illiterate person to be IQD 600 thousand (approximately US$ 500) per year. Considering the total number of illiterate peo- ple in Kurdistan is about 109 thousand, the ministry needs to build 3,201 adult education centers to reach its target illiteracy rate of 7%.
This would cost the KRG IQD 6.5 billion (US$ 5.4 million).
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the average illiteracy rate in the Arab countries is 30% and in Turkey is 7%.
Teachers and students celebrate the beginning of their 2011-2012 academic year in an elementary school in Erbil, September 10, 2011.