The Abysmal State of Education in Balochistan
Liaqat Ali, 14, belongs to Balochistan’s Chaghi District. He has never been to school. The reason is because his native village, Siya Rake, which is two kilometers from Reko Diq gold and copper project, does not have a school. Like the other village boys of his age, he grazes goats and sheep.
“I would love to study if I have a school in my village”, said the innocent boy, attired in shabby cloths, with a bare full smile.
In Balochistan, many children this writer met have shown an extraordinary interest in education. But either the lack of schools or the closure of existing ones distances them from their desire to be educated. Government officials say many vacant positions have not been filled yet which is why some of the schools remain closed for an inordinate period. At the same time, they insist that the government has established schools in every village of Balochistan.
Villages in Balochistan are scattered villages. The communities are also caught up with numerous economic woes. While the overall state of education in Balochistan shows a bleak picture, the situation in rural areas is even worse. Districts like Quetta, Khuzdar and Loralai which have some institutions face creaking infrastructure.
The rich people send their kids to Quetta for better education whereas everyone else cannot afford to do so. It is one of the reasons because of which the province has not been making progress in the field of education.
Educationists point out that education at public sector is declining day by day but the private sector is flourishing. Despite employing experienced teachers and offering reasonable packages, the government has not been able to raise the standard of education at public schools. The absence of checks and balances is often cited as one of the major reasons for the repeated failure of the public sector.
“Teachers who are appointed to serve in rural Balochistan do not even bother to go to those remote areas to teach their classes. They receive their salary while staying at homes”, said a member of a students’ organization.
“That is why schools in rural Balochistan have become “ghost schools”.
A D.E.O (District Education Officer) told this writer that no one could take action against these “fugitive teachers” because they had been appointed on political basis.
There are many teachers’ associations in Balochistan. They repeatedly go on strike over their petty matters despite receiving moderately attractive salaries. On the issues of students’ legitimate rights, they do not side with the former. If they protest students’ right to free compulsory education then they will surely play a great role in the improvement of education in Balochistan.
Teachers, to a great extent, can be mentioned as a reason for the poor state of education in Balochistan. Most of them have been appointed by the virtue of nepotism and favoritism under the Aghaz-i-Haqooq-i-Balochistan package offered by the federal government in 2009. With teachers appointed on political basis, how can the quality of education improve in Balochistan?
As far as girls’ education is concerned, they get permission from their parents to get education but they also have no educational facilitates. In some of the districts of Balochistan, there are no colleges for girls. They attend their college level classes either in girls’ high schools or boys’ degree colleges in evening shifts. Many girls quit education after matriculating.
Presently, Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University in Quetta is the sole girls-only university in Balochistan.
Students’ organizations claim that science and math teachers are absent from girls’ high schools in most of Balochistan.
On their part, officials have been announcing more new schools in Balochistan.
The current number of schools in Balochistan is as follows:
- Awaran: 247 schools with an enrollment of 20,601
- Barkan: 604 (18,036)
- Chagai: 229 (23,781)
- Dera Bugti: 336 (21,212)
- Gwadar: 249 (29,027)
- Harnai: 116 (9,373)
- Jaferabad: 909 (88,862)
- Jhal Magsi: 272 (25,390
- Kachi: 414 (32,669)
- Kalat: 441(37,989)
- Kech: 606 (76,209)
- Kharan: 216 (18,138)
- Khuzdar: 653 (48,632)
- Killa Abdullah: 467 (56621)
- Killa Saifullah: 581 (36,479)
- Kohlu: 417 (19,516)
- Lasbella: 558 (48,397)
- Lorali: 680 (48,903)
- Mastung: 354 (25,567)
- Musakhel: 284 (12,728)
- Naseerabad: 463 (31,603)
- Nushki: 213 (26,120)
- Panjgur: 343 (34,409)
- Pishin: 910 (71,310)
- Quetta: 553 (1,28,580)
- Sherani: 171 (6222)
- Sibi: 260 (22,475)
- Washuk: 166 (12,519)
- Zhob: 327 (26,936)
- Ziarat: 258 (12,713)
The condition of college and university level education in Balochistan is further abysmal. In rural areas, colleges are left with creaking infrastructure and very low attendance rate among the students. Similar to the situation at schools, colleges in Balochistan also face a dearth of science and mathematics instructors. The lecturers of Urdu and English are only available to teach the college classes. That is, students remain absent from their classes, or say dropout. The absence of lecturers at colleges also encourages and compels that the students to cheat during examinations. I suppose if students are provided education equally and honestly, then there would be no cheating.
As Basheer Ahmed, a student at Degree College, Kharan, said: “We do not have lecturers of key subjects at our college. That is why students cheat during the exams.”
The government should ensure the appointment of instructors at all levels of education across Balochistan.
In addition, the flawed admission policies of some universities in the province, particularly, the Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences, restrict Baloch students from remote and tribal areas from seeking admission.
Likewise, there is only one medical college in Balochistan out of 80 across Pakistan.
Lastly, keeping the above educational problems, it is the government’s fundamental responsibility to improve the access and standard of education in Balochistan. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in The Baloch Hal on April 28, 2013