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State of education in Balochistan

July 22, 2011

THIS is apropos of the letter by Rafiullah Kakar (July 12). I agree with the writer who has said that the alleged targeted killings of innocent teachers in Balochistan have brought the educational system of the province to a standstill.

The deteriorating law and order situation, long closure of educational institutions, sudden transfers of the qualified teaching faculty, intolerance towards other ethnic groups and the war-like environment in the educational institutions have one way or the other affected education in Balochistan.

A report by the Human Rights Watch has alleged that at least 22 educationists in Balochistan have died in targeted killings between January 2008 and October 2010. A good number of teachers and professors in Balochistan, who belonged to other provinces of Pakistan, have either left Balochistan or applied for transfer to their respective provinces.

The lack of proper transport is hampering accessibility of the scattered population of Balochistan to educational institutions in the far-away cities of Balochistan. Orthodox mentality, stigmas attached to women’s education, socio-economic problems and the lack of infrastructure and facilities and proper planning are some other straws that have broken the camel’s back.

Among total number of five public and private sector universities in Balochistan, the University of Balochistan, Bolan University of Medical and Health Sciences, and the University of Engineering and Technology, Khuzdar, remain mostly closed due to clashes among different ethnic groups and political activities on campuses. A student, therefore, gets his degree two or three years late than the specified duration for the particular programme.

It is stupefying that the number of MPhil and PhD students in the University of Punjab alone exceed the total number of research students in all the universities of Balochistan. Natural sciences laboratories in educational institutions of Balochistan lack modern equipment which is required to execute research compatible with the research conducted in laboratories of institutes such as HEJ Institute of Chemistry, Karachi; PCSIR, Lahore; or Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. This results in a massive influx of students from Balochistan to research institutes of other provinces and federal capital in pursuit of quality education and research in the field of social and natural sciences.

It is time the federal government took notice of this deteriorating situation of education in Balochistan. Or a student like me from Quetta studying in Lahore would certainly continue to opt for other provinces in pursuit of quality education.

Research institutes, independent research laboratories, colleges and universities (or at least campuses of the University of Balochistan) should be established in each district of the province or at least their number should be increased in the capital city.

Life sciences and natural sciences laboratories should have modern equipment and, above all, the government should ensure a peaceful environment on campuses in Balochistan.