January 14, 2015
It is difficult to imagine a bright future for Balochistan considering the dire state of education in the insurgency-hit province. Data shared by Sardar Raza Muhammad Barrech, Advisor to Balochistan Chief Minister on Education, reveals that almost half of the population of the province does not have access to education. There are only 12,500 schools – 7,000 amongst them with only one room and one teacher – for over 22,000 human settlements spread across the province. According to Mr Barrech, the enrollment rate amongst boys is no more than 35% and the figure decreases by 50% as far as girls are concerned. While 1.1m children receive primary education, only 50,000 manage to complete matriculation. A mere 30,000 students go on to receive higher education. These statistics ought to alarm those concerned about the future of Balochistan and its people, especially its children.
Mr Barrech claims that the province requires Rs 25bn to bridge the massive gap between what is being delivered and what is actually required. There is a serious need to spend more on education, not just in Balochistan but also across the country. Recent budgets show that the governments are attempting to spend more, but the increase is not at all sufficient. Increased spending for education alone however, will not solve Balochistan’s education crisis. The state of education represents the state of the entire province. It has for decades now been deprived of infrastructural development and economic activity compared to other provinces. The ongoing separatist insurgency has only contributed further towards worsening conditions. Peace is instrumental for social and economic uplift.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government appears to feel vindicated of its responsibilities towards the province having paved the way for Chief Minister Abdul Malik’s to form the provincial government following the 2013 election. A Baloch CM and a Pashtun Governor – there ought to be more depth in the federal government’s policy towards Balochistan. The PM was quite enthusiastic about what he foresaw as the beginning of a new era. But the following months apparently served as a wake up call, prompting the PM to keep his leaps sealed on matters beyond his control. The military remains at the helm of affairs related to Balochistan, with members of the provincial government often found lamenting the lack of power they enjoy. Health, education, law and order – all aspects of governance require attention and reform. As of now, there aren’t many encouraging indicators, which would make one feel optimistic about the whole situation.