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Old Thursday, September 27, 2007
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Default Subject: - Higher Education in Balochistan

Higher Education in the context of Balochistan

When one talks about higher education, the idea that immediately comes to mind is that of the education being provided in universities, professional colleges and so on and so forth. The education being imparted at these institutions is usually equivalent to and above the level of Masters. Thus, it must be assumed that when one is talking about higher education in the context of Balochistan, it means that one should be talking about the educational degrees of Masters, M.Phil, PhD, Post-Doc, etc. with reference to Balochistan. Easy as it may seem to some people but the converse is true in this case. The reasons for making such a statement are provided in the next few lines before, of course, attempting the core issue at hand.
Education is a rare commodity in Balochistan and it is even further so when talking about higher education, so trying to attempt to talk about higher education requires a general understanding of the situation of the educational standards in the province from the grass-root level to the top. The educational facilities of the province are extremely scanty even at the primary level let alone the secondary and higher education level. The number of primary schools in the province is lowest amongst the four provinces in the country and this is reflected by the literacy rate which is also, incidentally, the lowest. The percentage of males with primary education is about 33% whereas that of the females is a meager 6%. The above figures are valid for primary education only and this points to the fact that the percentage of individuals with higher education must be less than 1%.
The situation of secondary education is not too promising either. In fact, it is even worse with only the capital city of Quetta having institutions worthwhile mentioning. The other cities of Balochistan have at most one institute where secondary education is provided. The situation of secondary education in Balochistan is such that if it were not for the educational institutions of Quetta, the remaining province would have only 25% of the institutions that it has now.
The state of affairs relating to the primary education and that of secondary education points to one fact and that is before even having thoughts about promoting higher education, the problems related to primary and secondary education must be resolved.
The reasons for the lack of educated individuals in Balochistan are many: lack of awareness, orthodox mentality, stigmas attached with female education resulting in the unwillingness to educate females, socio-economic problems, lack of facilities which in turn results from the lack of interest on part of the concerned authorities i.e. the government and so on. But each of these problems has to be met before higher education cab be provided or even attempted to be provided to the individuals of Balochistan. The problems which are concerned with the primary and secondary education are directly related to the condition of higher education in Balochistan. These will be dealt with at the same time as discussing the problems faced while providing education because of the reason that most of the problems in both cases are fairly the same.
The state of higher education in Balochistan is quite mediocre and compared to the rest of the country it is in a state of shambles. How can the state of the higher education be satisfactory when that of the primary education is not so? How can a building be built when its foundations are not sound? How can a child run when it can hardly take a step? These are a few questions one should ponder on before discussing higher education in any region but even more so in the case of Balochistan.
The status of the higher education in Balochistan can be judged from the fact that the higher educational institutions i.e. the universities of either Lahore or Karachi are more than that of the whole of the province of Balochistan. Till a few years ago, the whole province of Balochistan had only one university to boast of! The province has only one medical college i.e. Bolan Medical College, located at Quetta. It has only one Engineering University at Khuzdar. The other universities are all located in Quetta. Balochistan has only two law colleges at Quetta and Sibi and those two only provide graduate degrees in law. The total number of universities (including those run privately) in the province is five and as said before this number is reduced to only one if the ones located at Quetta are excluded.
The above lines highlight the fact that the number of educational institutions in the province is extremely low let alone the standard of education being provided in these educational institutions.
The number of PhD and M.Phil students in the province is easily overwhelmed by the number of PhD and M.Phil students in Islamabad, Karachi or Lahore. One may even go on to say that the number of PhD and M.Phil students at Quaid-i-Azam University , Islamabad will exceed the number of PhD and M.Phil students in all of Balochistan. The number of Post-Doc students in Balochistan may be counted on the finger-tips.
But what is the reason for such few numbers of students who are getting higher education if we consider higher education as M.Phil and above? Even if one should include the students of Master’s level, one still does not see much of an improvement in the number of students as compared to the rest of the country. The question as to why there is so much apathy related while dealing with higher education in Balochistan still troubles us.
The answer is very straightforward: the reason for the dearth of students of higher education is the small number of students who have got secondary or even primary education! If one wants to address the problem of few students getting higher education, one must provide facilities and ensure that the individuals get secondary education. The powers that be i.e. the government should make it compulsory for everyone to get at least primary and if possible secondary education. Furthermore, the worries of the local people regarding the education of their children should be met, especially the reservations related to the education of girls. The Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University has done a great deal in this regard. The problem of the stigma attached to co-education can be resolved by introducing more girl’s high schools and colleges in remote areas of the province. In addition, more universities should be provided in the far-flung areas of the province so as to fulfill the requirements of all those who want to get higher education.
One major problem which is prominently seen in almost all the higher educational institutions of Balochistan is their recognition within the country and abroad. The reason for this is said to be the lacking standards of the educational institutions of the province. This can only be resolved by the H.E.C. and the higher-ups of the government who can establish one standard of education throughout the country.
The most important aspect of higher education is its standard. The standard of higher education in Balochistan lags far behind the rest of the country. In order to bring it up to par not only with the rest of the country but also with the international standards, one has to start at the basics. Ensuring education is provided to everyone is a start but it is the quality of education that is of utmost importance. This can only be done by ensuring that the standard of education throughout the country is uniform. This can only be done by introducing a system of education whereby all the institutions follow the same guidelines and this too, from the grass-root level. This can be done by abolishing all the provincial boards of the country and setting up one educational board for primary and secondary education. The syllabi of the provinces should be made the same and the examination system revised so as to meet the requirements of the modern age and to compete with international standards. Once the foundations of education are strong and sound, the problems of higher education will be sort out itself. Once again, introduction of a single scoring system (e.g. a single G.P.A. system) for all colleges and universities will ensure the standard of higher education in Balochistan is brought upto that of the rest of the country.
Another thing that greatly influences or affects the standard of education is the status or caliber of the teachers, lecturers and professors of the educational institutions. Certain incentives should be provided to educated individuals so that they may pursue careers in education. The situation is such that most people would choose to become doctors, engineers, lawyers and other such professionals before even considering careers in teaching or anything related to the educational field. This evil should be met and removed from the minds of the people and the only to do this is by giving extra benefits and incentives to the teaching staff of all educational institutes.
The condition of higher education is not too bright but it is impossible to correct and brighten up. With proper application and implementation of some basic principles, one can redeem the current state of affairs of higher education in Balochistan. The government, both federal and provincial, in collaboration with the H.E.C. and the local people of Balochistan can easily remedy all the ills faced by Balochistan regarding higher education. A little dedication and hard work is all that is required on part of us to brighten up our educational outlook which will ultimately improve our future.
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