A large number of women participated in an event in Badin to bring the candidates contesting the next general elections and their voters face to face, enabling them discuss the state of education in their district.
The event was organised by Laar Education Campaign in conjunction with Alif Ailaan. Community participation was encouraging and underlined the voters’ burning desire to secure a better education for their children.
Ghulam Ali Talpur (PPP candidate from NA-229) accepted his party´s shortcomings in governance and the incompetency of the departments concerned. He pledged to work to improve the state of education and ensure better schools in Badin if elected.
In a reply to a question from the audience if education would be a priority for the PPP after this election, Taj M Malah (PPP), who is a candidate for PS-73, promised that if elected, education in his constituency will be the party´s top priority.
Sindh Tarraqqi Pasand Party´s candidate for PS-73 Shahnawaz Sial promised to work on girl’s education and said he will make sure the issue is flagged and will be added to his party’s manifesto. These pledges were seen as step in the right direction, given how poorly the district has performed in various education rankings. According to Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017, Badin stands at 124 out of the ranked 141 districts nationally whereas its rank is 21 out of the 24 district of Sindh on the Education Score.
While the participation of community members including a large number of women was a positive development, the fact that of the eight candidates who had confirmed they would attend, only three showed up also highlighted the apathy that has resulted in Badin´s dismal education ranking.
The conversation would have been more meaningful if there was representation from Zulfiqar Ali Mirza and Fehmida Mirza’s Grand Democratic Alliance. The Mirzas have had their stronghold in Badin for a number of years now. Hasnain Mirza, a GDA candidate, confirmed his participation but sent regrets a day before the event, citing a hearing in the Sindh High Court in Karachi.
The event, moderated by senior journalist-anchor Murtaza Solangi, also saw the politicians presented with a charter of demands focusing on the provision of quality education in Badin District. A lively interaction ensued throughout the event.
The session was followed by another session with activists and local authority representatives. The panelists urged the community to vote for the candidates who promise to work towards improving education in Badin.