Several politicians from various political parties gathered on Friday (June 29, 2018) at a political convention to discuss the failing state of education in District Matiari, Sindh, analyse the five-year education plans of contesting candidates and probe reasonable solutions to ensure quality education across the government-run schools. The convention was organised by Yes, We Can Educate Sindh, and attended by parents, youth activists and civil society members of Matiari.
Muhammad Ali Abro PS-49 NA-223 (STPP), Ramesh Kumar NA-223 (PTI), Maulana Dost Ali NA-223 (MWM), Makhdoom Fazal Hussain NA-223 (GDA), Jalal Shah PS-59 (GDA), Naseer Memon PS-58 (GDA), Hazoor Baksh Khashkeli PS-58 (IND), Sana Mulokhani (SUP) PS-58 and Ameer Abbas NA-223 (SUP) attended the debate. Not a single PPP candidate attended the event.
Matiari is ranked 80th nationally on Education Score that measures retention, learning and gender parity, as per Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017 released by Alif Ailaan. Analysis of the educational landscape in Matiari revealed that shortage of schools for girls at primary and post-primary level, coupled with a shortage of female teachers at all school levels, and unavailability of basic school infrastructure and facilities are the three most important factors contributing to failing education standards in Matiari.
Out of the total 829 available schools in Matiari, only 176 are girls’ schools. The problem of gender disparity worsens as we move from primary level to middle, high and higher secondary levels. Of all the schools in the district, 92% are at the primary level. Therefore, students, both girls and boys, graduating from primary schools do not have enough schools to attend.
There is no higher secondary school for girls in the entire district. Therefore, enrolment drops as students move up the higher classes especially for girls. In addition, several existing schools in Matiari suffer from basic school infrastructure such boundary walls, electricity, toilets and water. These factors have negatively contributed to poor learning outcomes of students.
Only 21 schools in the district have science labs in them and 12 schools have libraries in them. Any improvement that is sought in the learning outcomes of children has to be backed by hiring of subject specialist teachers immediately.
While speaking at the session, moderated by renowned senior journalist Naz Sahto, Makhdoom Fazal Hussain spoke about the lack of science labs holding back the potential of students. Naseer Memon of Grand Democratic Alliance promised to personally provide funds to schools in the future regardless of their election outcome.
Sana Mulokhani stressed upon mobilising mothers in her constituency to seek support on education-based demands from all candidates. PTI’s candidate Ramesh Kumar committed to run his campaign exclusively on education this election season while Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party’s Muhammad Ali Abro announced to establish a working group on education in the run-up to the elections.
Towards the conclusion, all contesting candidates signed on a charter of demands for the constitutional provision of quality education for children of Matiari, and promised to deliver on the charter if elected during upcoming elections. The charter, backed by a host of organisations, parents and community members in Matiari, outline the following demands:
Candidates sign charter of education demands
In a patriarchal society, only way to ensure gender balance
Untrained and disinterested in the job, many pursue other agendas
Only revised curriculum can serve as a positive agent of learning