Monday, January 12, 2015

Bleak future: Half of Balochistan’s population without access to school

By Shezad Baloch

January 12, 2015


Only 12,500 schools for over 22,000 human settlements across Balochistan.

QUETTA: Adviser to Chief Minister Balochistan on Education Sardar Raza Mohammed Badech on Monday painted a very gloomy state of education in the province when he revealed that almost of half of Balochistan’s population does not have access to schools.

While addressing a seminar on Education Governance, Government and Media Partnership to Enhance Accountability organised by MISHL at the Quetta Press Club, Badech claimed that there are only 12,500 schools for over 22,000 human settlements across the province.

“We need Rs25 billion to fill this huge gap,” he said, adding that it would not be enough to fill the gap even if the provincial government spends the entire development budgets of ten years on education.

He further said that “there are almost 7,000 schools with just a single room and single teacher in the province.”

According to the adviser, about 1.8 million children, which makes more than 65 per cent of the children in the province, are out of schools. While 1.1 million children go to school, merely 50,000 make it to matriculation and only 30,000 receive higher education, he added.

Terming the state of education in the province as sad, Badech laid the blame on lack of resources and poverty. “The prime reason for this grim situation is poverty because we do not have enough resources.”

Literacy rate

Debunking the myth that the literacy rate in Balochistan is around 57 per cent, the adviser said, “The data which I have collected shows the rate is much lower than 57 per cent.”

Badech said the rate of literacy among boys is 50 per cent, whereas girl’s literacy rate is mere 19 per cent in the province.

“The state of girls’ education in Balochistan is more terrible with 50 per cent lower enrolment than their male counterparts,” he added.

He further revealed that the dropout rate of girls in high school is much higher than boys.

Efforts to improve education

Talking about government’s effort to improve the state of education in the province, Badech claimed that government has increased the allocation for education sector in last two years to 23 per cent from eight or nine per cent of the total budget.

The adviser on education said that although the provincial government has launched several projects to improve the state of education, it is still not enough. “There is still a huge gap and we all need to work hard for improvement,” he added.

Commenting on the difficulties faced by the provincial government, Badech said that unlike any other province, population in Balochistan is more scattered so the government has to spend more money on one student than any other province.

“There was no data available when we came in power but now we have started gathering data from the very beginning to improve the state of education,” he said.

Balochistan will not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, he added.

Teaching mother tongue

The adviser to the chief minister said that within two years the provincial government would declare one’s mother tongue as a mandatory subject in schools.

“Earlier we decided to impart education in mother tongues but we realised there is a lack of teachers and resources,” he added.

While revealing that English language is not taught at primary level in schools, Badech claimed that a plan was devised to teach English at primary schools.

Director MISHL informed the participants that lack of media coverage is also contributing to the poor state of education.

“During last six months, merely 1,098 minutes out of total 27,990 minutes of airtime was given to education on news channels and cables,” she said.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/820739/bleak-future-half-of-balochistans-population-without-access-to-school/

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