Reflecting upon the present state of education in Balochistan, educationists and subject experts reviewed various initiatives taken by the provincial government in the recent past, urging for the recognition of well-intended efforts made by the province’s incumbent authorities to resolve the issue.
They were speaking at the session ‘Education in Balochistan’ held at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).
Balochistan Rural Support Program (BRSP) CEO Gul Barech, presenting education-specific background of the province as well as its SWOT analysis, termed the province’s area, youth population, mineral resources and the coastal line as few of its major strengths.
He identified meagre population per square kilometre (only 19 persons), the overwhelming majority of which was living below the poverty line, lack of infrastructure, untapped or underutilised resources, the region’s internal conflict-ridden history and the spillover from neighbouring countries as major hurdles in planning and executing any type of strategies for the province’s sustainable growth and development.
The speaker lamented that there existed a high number of out-of-school children in the province whereas the drop-out rate of school-going children was also quite alarming. The transition rate from primary school children graduating to the middle schools was another major concern. The number of schools in the province, if compared to its requirements, was also highly insufficient whereas as many of those schools were being operated on ‘single teacher multi-grade’ system’, he explained.
Sardar Raza, adviser to the Balochistan chief minister on education and the keynote speaker, concurred with Nadir’s concerns but positioned that despite all the difficulty, several steps were already being taken to improve the situation.
Directing attention towards few of Balochistan government’s achievements in the past two years, Raza highlighted the increased budget allotment for education, establishment of 500 new schools, induction of over 100,000 students into schools, the ‘accelerated pathways’ programme to attract over-aged children towards schooling, hiring of teachers through the National Testing Service (NTS) to ensure merit fulfillment, teacher’s performance evaluation mechanisms, establishment of facilities for technical education and skill development, establishment of colleges and universities, specially to cater the needs of medical and agriculture sectors and the establishment of private school regulatory authority as few of its worthy initiatives.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2015.
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