Education In Balochistan: Girls Sent To Madrassas And Married Earlier
A large number of girls and boys who remain out of school, put a question mark over the performance of government.
Fehmida,18, was fond of studying natural sciences, her good analysis of biological contents groomed her to think of being a good doctor in future. Her father Saleem kept on helping her out to proceed schooling in the quite patriarchal society till class-eight in the Karbala girls high school. Seemingly, his hopes of growing his daughter educated termed into mistrust over the educational institutions when he examined the irregularity and non-availability of teachers at school, the slow growth of continuity of education and the less response of the teachers given to students. His preferences changed and he tended to enroll Fehmida in Madrasa next to his home. She was married the subsequent year and now a mother of one child.
“ I could have been in field of medical if had carried out the schooling, things changed so harshly that brought de-escalations to my education. I feel desperate recalling those days in school, the books, the lectures, the debates and the laboratory experiments. I wish I could continue my studies, the early marriage bonded me to the kitchen and home services”, Said Fehmida in despair.
Back in 2010, The girls high school of Karbala – a town in district Pishin which according to 2017 census figures had 55,000 population – had once received an award for its vigilant efforts for education on provincial level. Despite the fact it was a middle module school; the total strength counted to approximately 1,100 and the yearly early March campaign for new registries would bring increasing numbers of children towards school. It had set a precedence in being a hub of good education in the district.
Nonetheless, it sought status of the high school in 2014 but didn’t last with the same image! All the strength lowering to an halt mostly flowed to the newly established religious corners, the [Madrasas]. it now has 188 students and the educational activities seem dys-functional.
In the year 2021 alone, Shumaila remains the only student of class-ten who will be attempting her final matric exams the next month on April 11. The class-nine consists of two students, class-eight makes arrangement of four students, class-six has eight number of students and class-five with fourteen students.
Nasra Sabir serves as school headmistress since 2018. She is of the view regarding the parental mistrust over the school staff, “perhaps, it’s unfortunate to see girls leaving school for Madrasas, or the reason the imposition of the early-marriages stress them to abandon their education. Many of them have left the school amid their matriculation. It indeed is admissible to address the parents grievances of mistrust over the school staff punctuality. Half the staff make their access from far scattered areas, they lack proper convince reaching out the school timely. Though the Covid-19 has shed massive impacts on the educational activities, we are determined to gear up this March educational campaign. We sre making efforts to make parents enroll their children in the school. The less number of teachers probably cannot comprehend all the classes, I have submitted request to the education department for more staff as per the school requirement”.
Switching off the vaguely odd thoughts to a more soft and innovative thinking Maulana AminUllah who serves as a cleric in a mosque in Karbala; he seems happy receiving his elder son Aman Ullah’s matriculation result in good score. He persuades his son to continue his studies in future.
“I have felt the need of growing our children educated, to make compatibility with the technological era, the 21st century dynamics; the parents have to understand for a greater cause. I conveniently made many reluctant fathers agree to enroll their children in school and no doubt, girls will also be provided equal opportunities to get education”, he said vividly.
In several plots of the [Holy Quran], Islam stresses getting education as it is essential for a living but also maps up the environment in which the teaching is to be given. I guess, if there is a safe environment for girls in the educational institutes, Islam doesn’t put confinements or bonds to stop girls from getting education. He discussed.
“I think the Islamic education shall come annexing in the school course codes, Islamic scholars be given space in the set-up, so that, both the worldly and the religious studies may accommodate all together. To discuss ‘Madrasas a reason to the decreasing number of school strength, I agree, but would stick to the point of making combined study course where the two curriculums could be run equally”, Maulana AminUllah added.
Sarbaz Ali, 32, is a social activist working on girls education in Union Council Badizai of district Pishin. He discusses how the UC collapsed into rigidity. He still remembers his younger brother sharing the desk with his female fellow in the middle school situated in the mid-east of village. ‘Post 9/11, we saw a massive number of Madrasas established in the area that… brought breaks to the school going girls…those willing girls who wanted to pursue their matric studies ahead’, Sarbaz discussed.
In the calculation of the 2017 census, district Pishin abounds about 736,481 population. According to the District Education Officer (Pishin), the school going students count to a total strength of 58,823 of which 40,591 are boys and 18,232 are girls. The education department has arranged a total of 3,322 deployment of human resource in the district, of which, there are 1,182 women and 2,140 men working on developing education with 2,886 teaching staff and 436 non-teaching staff.
The 2020 survey of the education department Balochistan figures a total of 423,741 girls enrolled in the province. Similarly, the reports of the education department published yearly explain that there are 3,140 primary schools, 645 middle schools, 403 high schools and 50 higher-secondary schools in the year 2020 in Balochistan.
Balochistan is an underrated society that has yet not developed the strategy shaping society’s collective psyche. There has to be a fledged policy bringing it to a mainstream track. Women need an equal part in all the imparting walks and stakes.
“The Covid-19 layer shed a wholly abruption impacting the routine of the society. We have had a strategy to begin the March school enrollment campaign in cooperation with education department in the just past 2020, but couldn’t do so because of the Coronavirus hike”, discussed Qayyum Lashari, who serves as DC Pishin.
The district administration in nexus with education department is making efforts for high strength enrollment in schools in 2021. The campaign portrays a slogan, “A kid in school and teacher in Class” and the awareness campaign is run through masses, street walks, mosque loudspeakers, wall paintings and mobilization of the society patrons, said Lashari.
Khalda Taj is in the field serving as District Education Officer since 2018 in the district, she feels safe and happy walking in the streets of Pishin, “the residents respond supportive in the enrollment campaign but we are feeble at making our part to provide quality education, building structure and the utmost teachers presence in class. To get the pivot attention of parents, agreeing them to enroll their children in schools, immediate efforts are required to understand the needs and get to the legal suitable solution. We are acquiring the newly recruited young-lot deploying it to fix the issue”. She said.
The reason of teacher’s absence in class and not giving timely response to students; that has given voids to the parents hopes, is their far-scattered living from school’s location in the district. Some find convince difficulties reaching the school. Most of the staff come from capital Quetta. Those local recruits are also settled out of the district who seem to be irregular understanding no weight of their responsibility, Khalda explained.
“I have admired the situation during my tenure and have come to understand, if the department manages to strengthen the school system and bring a rhythmic flow in education provision, no girl will leave the school and that would make their equal representation in society”. She said.
The 2017 population survey elaborates a total 12.3 million population of province Balochistan. In the fiscal year 2020/2021, the provincial PSDP has assessed an amount of 139.996M estimation for education sector.
Seeing all the scenario, it comes to entail that the overall girls education growth is underrated in the province. On one part, the post 9/11 war wave has brought the hiking number of madrasas that have impacted the children strength and pave its flow out of school. On the other, the inattentiveness and poor consultancy of government over developing suitable strategy to combat illiteracy doesn’t seem intact. The girls education should be a priority for society as a whole, so that, they could also step out in the field and walk in the streets of Pishin and 31 other districts of Balochistan; safe and educated.
Freelance Investigative Journalist and researcher