By: Munaj Gul Muhammad
Tariq Baloch, 13, gets up early in the morning and moves to the nearby garage in Turbat city every day so as to earn a little sum of money for the family. He uses the work tools at a very young age rather than picking up books to be at school. And schooling has not been a daydream for him since his childhood besides having the constitutional rights.
”School is not for us.” Says Tariq Baloch in tears before I put a question. “Who could buy clothes and shoes for my younger sister if I were in school? How can we survive without the basic facilities like, food-stuffs, lodging and other indispensable necessities? No one can measure the problems we are going through.” Thought-provoking, indeed.
The expensive fee structure of the education and negligence of the government constrained the boy to work in this garage instead of securing education to lodge a comfy living. He is as poor as sometimes his family members sleep without taking a loaf of bread.
Balochistan, a resource-rich province, is confronted with a staid challenge to ensure all children to be at school and thwarting out-of-school children is another quandary in the province.
60 to 70 percent children in the province are out-of-school according to a report by UNICEF. Among which, 78% girls and 67% boys of school going age are out-of-school, the sole reason why Balochistan always has a handful number of out of school children is because Balochistan governments-in-rule have always snubbed the decades-long education emergency.
1.8 million Children in Balochistan do not attend school, over half of whom are girls, a report by the Academy for Educational Planning and Management (AEPAM) says.
In Balochistan mainly girls are out-of-school owing to the gender-based discrimination and regressive societal norms. The dismal state of education, expensive fee structure, and apathy of the government are the other reasons for the great drop-out of the students in the province.
“If my daughters were able to be enrolled in any school in the area someday, it could be the happiest day of my life.” Says Mahtab Baloch. “A fraction of unfortunate and indigent daughters of the soil end their lives up without stepping into schools.”
Correspondingly, the non-functional schools and absence of ultimate amenities in the schools are the main drives behind the rife unenrollment of the school-going children; therefore, the province has been home to the highest proportion of illiteracy among girls. Getting the out-of-school children into school is the constitutional duty of the government which remains unaddressed.
1, 1627 primary schools are registered in Balochistan, of which 1,271 are middle schools and 947 are high schools as per as a study by Alif Ailaan. The study highlights that each year 165,869 girls are enrolled in the primary section, of which the number drops to 44,076 in the middle section and 20,015 in the higher section.
The absence of rudimentary education always impedes progress of the society so as the province grieves from the plagues.
” Whenever I see children going towards schools having bags and wearing uniforms, I wish to get my children enrolled in a school, but forlornly, we cannot go to a lot of expenses to educate our children well since we are paupers,” complains Bibi Gangi.
Her children are out of school and have no other options besides opting work tools at a very young age. They are abused and beaten.
According to the annual report citizen-led household ASER Survey 2018,“In Baluchistan, the proportion of out-of-school children has improved as compared to 2016 but 28% children are still not going to school and the province has recorded overall 7% increase in enrollment.”
Visiting a friend in Mand, district Kech, a few months ago, I was dazed to see the government primary schools in scruffy state. The education minister of Balochistan has on no occasion taken decent steps to bring out-of-school children into school and address the longstanding education crisis in the province.
The education crisis in Balochistan would not come to an end until and unless a basic education is accessible for all. The government had better show its commitment to tackle the problem of ghost teachers and absenteeism of teachers by applying biometric system and ensure that all children are provided with free textbooks and uniforms besides basic amenities in schools.
The writer is a regular contributor to The Balochistan Point.
Published in The Balochistan Point on August 6,2020