LASBELA: A multi-party convention was held in Lasbela on Monday to discuss the failing state of education in District Lasbela, analyse the five-year education plans of contesting candidates and probe reasonable solutions to ensure quality education across the government-run schools. The convention was organized by Parhega Balochistan Barhega Balochistan and Alif Ailaan, and attended by Shah Mohammad Siddique (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal for PB-49), Sardar Muhammad Saleh Bhootani (Balochistan Awami Party for BP-50), Asim Lasi (Balochistan National Party-Mengal for PB-49) and Amir Hussain Magsi (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for PB-49) along with parents, youth activists and civil society members of two provincial assembly constituencies: PB-49 and PB-50, and one national assembly constituency: NA-272.
Analysis of the educational landscape in Lasbela revealed that availability of schools beyond primary access, quality of education, and missing facilities and poor school infrastructure are the three most important factors contributing to failing education standards in Lasbela.
84% of all the schools in the district are primary schools. There are only 2 higher secondary schools in the district. The students graduating out of the primary level do not have enough schools to attend post primary and this results into a steady decline in enrollment at middle level as compared to the primary level, leading children to discontinue their education after Class 5. The number of girls enrolled is much lower as compared to the boys at all levels. Low girls’ enrollment is mainly because of the less number of girls schools in the district. Only 27% of the schools in the district are for girls as compared to 73% of boys.
Currently, Lasbela ranks 123 out of 155 districts nationally on score for primary school infrastructure as per Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017, released by Alif Ailaan. Provision of infrastructure and basic facilities will raise the attendance rates and interest of both the students and the teachers ensuring better quality of education.
As a result, learning outcomes of the students of Lasbela are negatively impacted. According to Annual Status of Education Report 2016, 47% of the students of class 5 cannot read a story in Urdu meant for class 2, 65% of the students of class 5 cannot read a sentence in English meant for class 2 and 57% of the students of class 5 cannot do 2-digit division meant for class. Shortage of subject specialist teachers and science labs also contribute to the decline in learning levels.
While speaking at the session, Shah Muhammad Siddique of MMA expressed concern over the issue of poor quality education getting sidelined by politics in the country, especially Lasbela, and considered it unfortunate that critically fundamental decisions like teacher trainings and construction of school buildings have been made on under political considerations. Amir Hussain Magsi of PTI promised to introduce merit in the education system if elected and provide quality trainings to male and female teachers of the district. There was a consensus among all participants that girls’ education and upgradation of schools required immediate attention of the lawmakers as soon as they are given charge after the elections. Sardar Muhammad Saleh of BAP announced to establish and reform high schools as per the demand from girls and their parents, while Asim Lasi of BNP-M committed to upgrading all 1200 middle schools in Balochistan to high-level and 947 high schools to higher secondary-level.
Published in Balochistan Point on July 4, 2018