Education sector in Sindh remains vulnerable to misappropriation of resources by political forces, said a report launched on Saturday.
Sindh government of Sindh should come up with a concrete action plan to address the worsening state of education in the province, demanded the participants at an online launching ceremony of a report 'The Political Economy of Education in Sindh in 2020', produced by the Hari Welfare Association (HWA).
HWA President Akram Khaskheli said that free and compulsory education is a constitutional right, but the government failed to provide this right to each child. More than 6.4 children are out of school, and they belong to the families of peasants and labourers.
He said that girls' education in rural areas of Sindh is in the worst condition, moreover, due to missing facilities and lack of teachers, thousands of schools are dysfunctional at ground level, while child labour has increased due to lack education in rural areas.
The provincial government should increase budget in education and ensure its proper utilisation, make functional all schools to address children dropout issue, recruit teachers as per need on an urgent basis to address teacher shortage issues.
He said that political interference in education department is dangerous.
Dr Abdullah Khoso, one of the report's authors, education is politicised in every country. However, in Sindh, it is politicised too much where resources are misused and misappropriated without anyone's notice. He added that every dimension within or with the education sector is political, including distribution and utilisation of resources. He also added that Sindh's education system is nothing but pure political economy around the distribution (or not distribution, or misappropriation) of economic resources.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Vice-Chairman Qazi Khizar said that Sindh has always introduced laws on human and children's rights, but the implementation has remained a serious problem. He also complained that the government was not serious about providing data on education. He said that he has calculated that in reality, in Sindh, 7.5 million children from five to 16 years of age were not going to school.
Taleemo Agahi Pakistan CEO Baela Raza Jamil suggested that the government should decentralise education and provide powers and resources to the communities to deal with education affairs. However, the government should play the role of monitoring.
Sadiqa Salahuddin from Indus Resource Centre was of the view that most children do not go to school, and if they go to school, they do not learn due lack of the capacity of teachers to teach properly. She said that the most imminent problem is girl children and their mobility. They do not have access to schools, and they cannot attend coeducation schools because of cultural barriers.
The United Nationals International Labour Organisation (ILO) was represented in the event by Abid Niaz Khan. He said child labour is a great cause for concern and resonates with the UN's declaration calling 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. In Sindh, the most reasonable window is political government. In particular, the stakeholders can harness this window of opportunity towards helping children realize their legal rights-compulsory schooling for everyone below 16.
AD Jamali from teachers association, Qamarul Nisa Dhamrah member Sindh Commission on Status of Women, Asiful-Bashar and many others also spoke on occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20h, 2021.