By Zeeshan Nasir
Balochistan’s education crisis still prevails it is in fact increased in place of decreasing.
Despite knowing this fact, there is a whopping illiteracy rate, which has not only devastated the province but also our future-the youth.
According to statistical data, 5.02 million girls and boys aging between 5-6 are not achieving education and that Pakistan has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world after Nigeria.
Pakistan Education Statistic 2015-16 launched by the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) – a subsidiary of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training revealed that
Pakistan’s largest province — Balochistan — has the highest proportion of out-of-school children (70 %) followed by the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) (58 %).
The main and only reason why Balochistan always has the highest proportion of out-of-school children is because Balochistan’s government has always been neglecting the decades-long education crisis in the province, and has never been sincere in efforts to increase the enrollment of such children. The figure of 1.8 million out-of-school children, as social workers say, is projected to increase in the next year.
It must be noted that Balochistan has around 13,000 government-run schools, 2,500 of which are for girls and the other 10,500 for boys respectively. On the contrary, Balochistan is home to more than 10 million people.
Most of these schools lack infrastructure such as boundary walls, lack of electricity, toilets and most importantly hygienic drinking water which raises the question what Balochistan government has done to provide quality education to every Baloch child.
To my recent visit in my native village, I surprisingly found the boys and girls high school in shabby conditions.
On my query, one of the students told me that they were not interested in studies because they would easily solve the paper through cheating. While the other said,” of what use is education to us?”
Karim, son of a farmer in the village has a very vigorous desire to get education but unfortunately he is among the very Baloch who is out of school and that he is a pauper.
Despite the Article 25-A quotes, “the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children aged five to 16 years”but the state fails to provide education to its youth. The law is quite adequate but has been neglected and thus child labour is piling up rather than coming to an end. Above all, Balochistan does not only need to provide free education but also free uniforms so that the poorest citizens can also receive at least a basic education. On account of unaffordable uniforms, many children have been expelled from school, resulting in mind boggling illiteracy.
According to the recent estimate of International Labour Organisation (ILO), 10 million children are estimated to be child labourers and 38.4 % of the youth are estimated to be illiterate. On top of that, illiterate youth and illiterate children, both are obstructions to progress and peace in Balochistan.
Balochistan is facing a number of problems and outcomes such as target killings, kidnappings, street crimes, robberies, begging, suicides amongst the youth and many more, most of which are being committed by illiterate youth and illiterate children. Illiterate people, who have scarcity of knowledge, are likely to fall prey to crime and other anti-social activities. It may not come as surprise to most of us that terrorism, which has made life in Pakistan a living hell, is piling up owing to the exploitation of illiterate people by terrorists who use them as their ‘foot soldiers’ by manipulating religion.
While we always catch news item about illiterate people or youth who have chances meeting with terrorists. They join hands with the terrorist after being brainwashed on the basis of religion. Afterwards, try to kill innocent people via a suicide explosion.
One of the farmers in the village said that he had a son named Amin who had clinched first position in his first grade but has never gone to school and has been addicted to drugs and snatches mobiles, money of many people and his crimes are common in the village due to illiteracy.
Another child, Isra, after passing her fifth grade, has been very obliged to stop pursuing education because there is only a primary school in her village and that she has to go to Tump for her higher education but her parents are very poor and both of them work and thus,she gets no one to drop and pick her from nearby government secondary school.
There are more than hundreds of thousands of Balochs who want to pursue education but to no avail.
Undoubtedly, the federal and provincial government spend millions and even billions to buy F-16 and build underpasses, motorway, corridors but the percent of education in Balochistan is 5.
Here the question arises: why are so many girls and boys out of school in the country despite the fact that Article 25-A of the Constitution orders the state to provide free and compulsory education to all the children aged 5 to 16 years?
Undoubtedly, education is the only source that can solve each and every problem of Balochistan. It is illiteracy that has compelled thousands of Amins to be addicted to drugs and street crimes. It is illiteracy that cause of crimes in our society while it is illiteracy that has caused Balochistan a backward province.
If we have a strong desire to help the poor citizens of this country occupy a good position in society, we ought to divert full focus on education, from root to branch, which not only helps poor people but also results in rooting out most of the crime-related problems.