Thatta not a shadow of its glorious past

Juman Shah

A district with its rich history, centuries old sites and monuments, and a great tourist attraction, has lost much of its past lustre today due to its dismal state of education. Situated in Sindh, Thatta is a mere 100 kilometres from Karachi. It could be thousands of miles away.

The district boasts historical monuments such as Makli Hills — listed as one of the largest necropolis’ among UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, and Shah Jahan Mosque, considered to have the most magnificent tile-work in South Asia, but its children are robbed of their basic right to education.

UNESCO says: “The capital of three successive dynasties and later ruled by the Mughal emperors of Delhi, Thatta was constantly embellished from the 14th to the 18th century. The remains of the city and its necropolis provide a unique view of civilization in Sindh.”

Contrast this historical centre of excellence and learning with the state it is in today through the findings of Alif Ailaan report 2016-17 which places the district 96th, out of 144 districts, in national rankings with 50.95 education score. It has witnessed a huge decline in learning outcomes as well and has a score of only 50.05 and a dismal situation in retention score of 34.9 and the gender parity of 67.9 score.

According to a report by Standard Achievement Test (SAT), the average language score obtained in Urdu and English languages for class five and eight is 32.62 and 42.6 respectively. While the scores of math and science subjects are even further behind. For class five math and science has only 25.21 and 21.41 respectively and for class eight 23.03 and 27.91 respectively.

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While the growth of technology has increased the demand for cutting edge education in the globalised world and it is seen as vital to success, the authorities here seem to have no interest in the future of the young generation given the state of education in the district. This neglect also means that a constitutional responsibility is being ignored.

As science subjects teaching is not merely theoretical, laboratories are imperative to carry out practical experiments. But of 1,381 schools in the district, only nine are equipped with labs. This is how our future generation and pride-to-be of Pakistan is being educated!

Apart from the poor quality of education, the district does not have enough schools to cater to post-primary needs as there are only seven higher secondary schools for the needs of students graduating from 93 percent of primary schools in the district.

The situation is clearly untenable. It is crying out for change. It is also clear that the decision lies in the hands of voters as today’s right choice will determine the state of tomorrow. The voters should pressurise the candidates contesting in the general elections to strengthen the education system in the district and insist on specific pledges. The people have to empower themselves thus if tomorrow’s Thatta is to reflect the glory of the bygone eras.

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