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A dismal state of education in Balochistan

Updated June 01, 2015

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Education in Panjgur has been forced out of business and we wonder how long it will be before government schools become the target. - AFP Photo
Education in Panjgur has been forced out of business and we wonder how long it will be before government schools become the target. - AFP Photo

In spite of an increase in the education budget, there are more than 7,000 multi-grade (from class 1 to 5), single room schools with just a single teacher in Balochistan. These schools have no boundary walls and no such thing as individual attention or security.

The coalition government had allocated 24 per cent of the budget during the financial year 2014-15.

However, adviser to the Balochistan chief minister on education, Sardar Raza Muhammad Bareech, says more than 75 per cent of the budget was spent on salaries etc., whereas, only 25 per cent budget was spent on development of the education sector.

The number of government-run primary, middle and high schools has reached around 13,000 with 1.3 million female and male students across the province, lagging behind other provinces in terms of key social indicators.

“Despite the government’s recent movement against out of school children, there are still 1.7 million children who are out of school at the moment," Sardar Bareech informed an all parties conferences organised by Institute of Social and Policy Sciences in Quetta.

The coalition government had allocated 24 per cent of the budget during the financial year 2014-15. - File Photo
The coalition government had allocated 24 per cent of the budget during the financial year 2014-15. - File Photo

The Balochistan government has already declared an education emergency in the province and enforced article 25-A of the constitution.

However, a large number of girls and boys who remain out of school give way to serious doubts about the performance of the nationalist-led government in the province.

Sardar Bareech portrays a bleak picture of state of education, especially regarding female education.

Two out of three girls are out of school in Balochistan, he said, urging the political parties to join hands to strengthen the government for enrolment of out of school children.

Political leaders including Awami National Party’s MPA, Zamarak Achakzai, Akhtar Hussain Langove of Balochistan National Party (BNP), Dr. Ishaq Baloch of National Party, Maulana Wali Turabi of JUI (F), Abdul Mateen Akhundzada of Jamaat e Islami (JI), Jaffar Khan Kakar of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and others spoke about the state of education and government schools in the province.

The political leaders were of the view, that, without education democracy cannot flourish and Pakistan cannot come at par with the developed world.

Political leaders expressed their concerns over the deteriorating condition of education during a seminar. - File Photo
Political leaders expressed their concerns over the deteriorating condition of education during a seminar. - File Photo

They, however, lamented that despite major announcements on part of successive governments and military dictators, the state of education was dismal in Balochistan.

“Our kids must be taught education in their mother language,” demanded Zamarak Achakzai.

Most of the speakers lashed out at the present government, for what they consider its failure to develop the curriculum, especially in the aftermath of the historic 18th Amendment that empowers the provinces in this regard.

They were also demanding an end to class education and urged quality education for all.

“Quality education is the right of every child,” Akhtar Hussain Langove said at the APC. He pointed out that most of the schools were without basic facilities in Quetta’s suburb areas.

Maulana Wali Turrabi, the Quetta Amir of JUI (F) thus stated that besides schools Madaris (religious seminaries) were also delivering their services in terms of promotion of education.

He informed the participants of the APC that there are 1,667 Madaris registered with Wafaq ul Madaris in Balochistan.

“You have to support the Madaris too,” Turabi asked the chief minister's adviser while referring to the role of seminaries in the province.

A large number of girls and boys who remain out of school, put a question mark over the performance of nationalists led government in the province. - Reuters Photo
A large number of girls and boys who remain out of school, put a question mark over the performance of nationalists led government in the province. - Reuters Photo

According to provincial industries department in Balochistan, the number of registered Madaris is more than 2,000, whereas, the number of non-registered ones is also in thousands in the province.

The political leaders painted a bleak picture of the state of government-run schools in rural Balochistan and urged the government to bring reforms in the education sector.

Some speakers term poverty, unemployment and law and order situation, as reasons behind educational backwardness and low literacy rate.

“Children of poor and marginalised families are deprived of education,” Mateen Akhundzada, the JI Amir told the participants.

The drop out rate is too high in schools in Balochistan. Out of 1.3 million children, only around 50,000 students appear in metric examinations every year.

“Now we have no clue where these kids go after abandoning their education,” said Sardar Bareech.

He reiterates that half of Balochistan is deprived of schools in Balochistan since the province has 22,000 settlements as per the 1998 census and the number of schools is currently 13,000.

Delay in census has also caused problems for the governments in terms of framing policies. The government has no accurate data about the population of Balochistan, unemployment, and poverty, etc.

The speakers also emphasised the need for increasing the capacity of teachers to improve the quality of education. The Institute of Social and Policy Sciences also proposed that the budget for the training teachers before and after recruitments should be increased.

The political parties criticised increasing fees of private schools and demanded a check and balance on them.

Sardar Bareech thus informed, that private educational institutions are only catering 2 per cent students in Balochistan.

However, Jaffar Khan Kakar of PTI intervened and said that despite all odds the private schools in Balochistan are imparting quality education as compared to government-run schools.

The Balochistan government has for the first time introduced appointments of teacher through national testing service (NTS).

Currently, more than 0.1 million candidates applied for 4,300 vacant posts of teachers in Balochistan through NTS.

“This step of government can be appreciated,” Mateen Akhundzada of JI admitted in the APC. At least transparency was being shown in appointment of teachers, he said.