Balochistan is often called the “neglected province”. It has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate, the highest poverty rate, and shamefully the lowest literacy rate in Pakistan. A major factor in the Balochistan conflict is education, which nationalists feel has been neglected. Is enough done for education development in this province? Where are the 60-70 million which the govt claims to have pumped in to improve the education system of Balochistan? Or is the government purposely neglecting its duty? These are questions which need an answer because at stake is a complete generation of Baloch’s, who are suffering at the hands of the regime has knowingly disowned them for long.
No captivating actions taken by the government certainly indicate a conspiracy. It is said that if an authoritarian regime wants to ensure its longevity, the first thing it attacks is the educational system to exploit them easily.
This seems to hold true in case of Balochistan where the tradition of deliberately keeping people uneducated has passed on to generations. The absence of education and awareness and presence of ignorance in Balochistan manifests itself in different harrowing forms.
The crisis of education remains unresolved
For any development, education is the foundation. Unfortunately, The literacy rate in Balochistan is very low – 39%. There are more than 12,500 primary schools however, 7000 schools are without classrooms and teachers. According to reports, 70 percent of children in Balochistan are out of schools. It is further revealed that at least 60 percent of children in Balochistan drop out by the time they reach the primary level, whereas 45 percent of students quit prior to completion of matriculation.
Most of the government schools in Quetta, and particularly in rest of other rural areas of the province, are operating in the open, without electricity and basic facilities such as drinking water and toilets.
According to the Balochistan Education Sector Plan, BESP (2013-2018), the Balochistan government implemented reforms initiatives for bringing a quality standard to testing of learning levels, restructuring of the system through District Education Authorities ( DEA), and to work for, retention and learning outcomes etc. More woefully despite these reforms claimed by the provincial government, the crisis to education stands unresolved.
When the children are deprived of education and youth are denied opportunities, this frustration and lack of opportunities lead them to violence and crime. Blaming the local chieftains as real impediments is a passe. The truth is that the regime is following the theory of destroying the educational curriculum & value system to prolong the occupation of the province & strengthen its control.
The possibility that the state-sponsored Islamic extremists are given a free run to wage a war against educational institutes especially those teaching the girls cannot be completely overruled. In the garb of providing security, intervention becomes way easier.
Biggest Enemy of Education System in Balochistan
Systematic oppression, bad governance, corruption, mismanagement of natural resources, etc have created a black hole of social crisis, amongst which the education sector in the province is worst-hit.
The leadership in Balochistan claims to develop the education system; however, no such results are observed. The former senator Sana Baloch expresses dismay over the management of the province. “Somebody is trying to achieve long term means at the cost of backwardness and bleak future for millions of children in Balochistan”.
Students Reject Military presence in Educational Institutes
Student organizations reject the presence of security forces in higher educational institutions. They expressed their reservations over the use of force against the students by the police & military. They allege that the increase in the fees is also a conspiracy to deprive poor students of higher education.
Pakistan has a vibrant and thriving news media. But there’s been a virtual blackout of alleged abuses on privately-owned national news channels. Journalists are under intense pressure and constant threat to present the army as a saviour in Balochistan. Therefore it is very unlikely that the dismal statistics of a failed education system will ever surface for public consumption.
However, we must all know that education is the basic tool of prosperity. Only a truly viable educated Baloch society will learn to fight the injustices meted to it. This idea of an educated society will obviously venture to resist fascists and forced regimes but a united front and support by fellow citizens could make a difference.
It is unfortunate, that majority of the people of Balochistan are still victims of a medieval outlook, thrust upon them by the self-proclaimed saviours. The sane solution to this oppression only lies in promoting education and giving the children of Balochistan their rights to education.
23 Jan 2019/Wednesday Written by Afsana