More and more teachers are reported to be quitting their places at Balochistan’s institutions of higher learning because of fear factor, dealing a blow to the already grim educational situation of the province.
But to stop the rot and revive scholastic fortunes of the province, a distinguished academic stresses political solution.
“A show of power will lead educational institutions in Balochistan to further deterioration,” believes the Vice-Chancellor of Quaid-e-Azam University.
Prof Muhammad Masoom Yasinzai, who has also served as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Balochistan for two years, told The Express Tribune that he had been pleading the case for a peaceful solution to the conflict in his interactions with politicians, government leaders and army officers for the past couple of years.
“Still it is my firm belief that there is room for a negotiated settlement,” Yasinzai said, warning that foreign forces would further exploit the already declining law and order situation in Balochistan if the case isn’t resolved amicably.
“There is an urgent need to win the hearts and minds of students in the colleges and universities of Balochistan. It is high time to pay full attention to the educational institutions of that province so that all students get equal opportunities to save their academic future,” Yasinzai added.
However, a lack of required academic staff in the University of Balochistan and other universities in the province has dealt a major blow to the already suffering education sector.
Teachers from Punjab are also no longer willing to serve in Balochistan after the killing of senior professors in Balochistan last year allegedly by students who have joined the separatist movement.
“A pro-vice chancellor of Balochistan University, Prof Safdar Ali Kiyani, was one of the 12 teachers killed to date in Balochistan,” Yasinzai said, adding that over 100 teachers had already shifted to Punjab, Sindh or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Balochistan. Six professors from Balochistan University were also among those killed.
The provincial secretary for higher education, Akbar Durrani, who had also served as the provincial home secretary till early this year told The Express Tribune that 150 senior teachers including 40 professors have joined educational institution in other provinces after the bloodshed. Prof Bari Malik, who was serving as the principal of Tameer-e-Nu school, Quetta was among those killed.
“Over 5,000 families have shifted to Punjab and other provinces after the killing of non-locals in Balochistan during the past two years,” Durrani added.
Yasinzai believes that a shortage of financial resources isn’t exactly at the core of the problem in Balochistan. Rather, he believes that poor governance and corruption in all institutions and government sectors have led to the plethora of problems being faced by the education sector in Balochistan.
“Carelessness by officials at the helm of affairs and an absence of a check and balance system is another issue. There must be a comprehensive monitoring system in the provincial government which is not easy in the case of Balochistan,” the vice-chancellor added.
The prospects of attaining a higher education in the country are bleak as only one per cent of 55 million children avail such an opportunity. The vice-chancellor believed that the state of affairs was such that primary education had also become a cause of concern. He agreed with a former member of the Public Service Commission, Fazila Aaliani, who said that 95 per cent of girls were denied primary level schooling in her province – Balochistan, adding that it was heartrending to see a higher education system that was not functioning.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2011.
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