Slogans have been raised that free, quality education is the right of every child of school-going age and it is the State’s responsibility to provide it, but the ground situation suggests that such an outcome has remained a dream for the poor students in Pakistan, millions of whom are out of school.
If the situation across the country is alarming, one would struggle with words to describe the state of affairs in Balochistan where nearly 70 per cent children are out of school. Girls’ enrolment presents a bleaker picture and it is no more than a dream for a girl to get an education in vast swaths of the province at all.
The government isn’t fully focused on education so the public sector is wholly inadequate for the needs and the private sector out of reach of a vast majority of the population as most people can’t afford it. It is heart-breaking to hear students and their parents constantly calling for provision of quality education as they recognise how important it is but it appears nobody listens to the poor in particular.
It would be a game changer if the government made policies that ensured the provision of quality education and missing facilities in its schools. Once people have faith in the State school system, it can be said with certainty that enrolment would rise dramatically. People clearly understand the importance of education in their lives but the non-existent or poor quality education facilities undermines their commitment to sending their children to school.
There can be no more a serious crisis in Balochistan than having nearly 70 per cent of its school-age children out of school. It is an emergency crying out for measures on a war-footing. If the present state of affairs persists entire generations will be doomed to the darkness of illiteracy and remain uneducated.
Simultaneous with focusing on improving the quality of education and addressing issues such as access and facilities, the government should also embark on a talent hunt scheme so exceptional students are given scholarships or their families help with expenses so they can concentrate on their studies and be able to compete with the best at any level.
The writer belongs to Lasbela District.
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