Education should remain top priority for Balochistan.

Byline: Syed Fazl-E-Haider

Education must be the top priority of the Balochistan government, which should provide both financial and technical support to improve primary enrolment and completion rates, reduce gender disparities, and encourage the private sector to participate in provision of education in the least developed province. The government must take steps to combat technological backwardness in the province and establish technical institutes in various districts to develop human capital here. Not the government alone but all the social organizations, institutions and NGOsshould come forward to help develop human resources in the province.

Balochistan has a literacy rate of 39 percent, which is much lower than the national rate. The education sector has suffered from years of neglect and under-funding. Balochistan is the country's poorest province with standards of living and social indicators lagging substantially behind the rest of the country. There is a strong nexus of high illiteracy with high poverty in the province. A lethal combination of militancy and poverty continues to keep the province far behind the other provinces in performance improvement in the educational arena killing all efforts and frustrating any prospect to bring improvement in poor state of education.

With low participation in general education and low completion rates at primary and secondary levels, the unemployment and underemployment rates in the province are higher than the national rates. Had education been the priority and focus of the decision-makers in Islamabad and Quetta over the past six decades, the province would not be facing the insurgency-like situation today. Education would be instrumental in combating backwardness in the province.

Official statistics show a dismal state of education in the province, which constitutes 44 percent of the country's total land mass. There are 12,600 primary, middle and high schools for more than 22,000 settlements in the province. The province will have yet to establish 10,000 schools on war-footings to ensure provision of education to children across the province. It has 57,000 government teachers, while it needs 60,000 teachers more. The province has only 1.3 million school-going children out of total 3.6 million children.

The province lags behind all the three provinces in the Net Enrolment Rate (NER). There is a strong correlation between household income and school enrollment. Long walking distances, lack...

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