An education crisis exists in various provinces of the country, particularly in Sindh. It has multiple dimensions like the large number of school drop-outs, shortage of teachers in government schools, absentee teachers, primary and secondary schools functioning in one room, schools without buildings where students are taught in all seasons in the open, inadequate number of colleges in rural areas and even these have few lecturers.
Now the provincial education minister has said in the Sindh Assembly that lecturers are unwilling to serve in rural colleges and they use political connections to get transfer to colleges in urban areas. He also hinted at appointment of well-connected people in the provincial education department in various capacities. Such bungling is common knowledge. The minister has only brought on record some of the malpractices in the education department. He said there were 39,000 primary schools and only 4,000 secondary schools in the province. This gives an idea of the importance that the government attaches to basic education. He said the government planned to increase the number of colleges. However, experience shows it is the quality of education that matters, not the number of educational institutions.
The minister further said there were around 10,000 non-functional schools in Sindh, and these schools would be closed down in phases. He said many one-room schools had been established during the Musharraf reign. He did not explain why money continued to be spent on these schools over the past 13 years of the PPP rule in the province. He made it clear that the government did not intend to merge these schools with other schools when he said buildings of these schools would be handed over to the health department. The poor state of education in the province contradicts the tall claims being made by the authorities. The educational footprint in the province is shallow.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2021.
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