A province, which is 44% of Pakistan by land, has meager number of universities as compared to rest of the provinces. This dilemma, wretchedly, has lasted longer than it had to be since the inception of Pakistan. Book and bread, unfortunately, didn’t go hand in hand. By adding insult to the injuries, separatists have also devastated the very fabric of education in the name of nationalism. There have been successive assaults on teachers and educational institutes which perished the peace loving minds of Baloch students. The province which had an opulent history of great civilization had become a land sunk in panic and chaos.

I visited Quetta couple of months back and witnessed the life so affectionate and generous to those who deem education the most powerful weapon to change Balochistan. I greeted students of different universities and had a meaningful and profound discussion on current life matters. The aura of positivism in their talks was so engaging that it made me delusional for a moment. They were well informed about happenings around them. The quanta of knowledge that students shared with me about geo-political dynamics, socio-economics modalities and educational development were precisely factual and updated. The clouds of peace are showering the rain of optimism. Universities and schools are open again. Students have reverted to book and pen. This is a soft revolution that is taking place in the Balochistan.

The whole mechanism of education in Balochistan was amiss decades ago. Despite an augmentation in the education budget in 2014, there are more than 7,000 multi-grade (from class 1 to 5), single room schools with just a single teacher in Balochistan. These schools have no boundary walls and no such thing as individual attention or security. The coalition government had allocated 24 per cent of the budget during the financial year 2014-15. The government has recently launched a movement against out of school children, and it showed that there are still 1.7 million children who are out of school at the moment. The statistics are petrifying but special concentration is being given to escalate the process of enrolling students in schools.

At college and university level, Government of Balochistan has initiated Youth Exchange Program to foster the culture of understanding between students of different provinces. This is a genuine medium through which an atmosphere of self-exposure and rational aptitude flows. The students from the universities of Balochistan are studying in the universities of Punjab have acclimatized to the standards of education here. During my visit, I proposed a plan to establish a bond between research scholars of Lahore and Balochistan. Universities, in collaboration with HEC can formulate a system where one student from Lahore co-author a researcher scholar from Balochistan and vice versa. The students of Balochistan would seek help from the research centers present in Punjab. This sort of covalent bond will sprout gigantic results in future.

The greater advancements include the construction of sub campuses of NUST, IBA, COMSATS and NUML in Balochistan. These highly ranked universities shall pave way for the upgrading of Balochistan’s universities. Since the educational activities have revived with zeal and zest, there are high hopes of life returns to normal. Despite inimical conditions, the resources are being utilized to ameliorate the standards of education.

The young minds of Balochistan have stern belief of fighting terrorism with book and pen. Foreign powers and their agencies have become more active than ever to create lawlessness in Balochistan. With preparations afoot to make Gwadar port functional in near future, some feel threatened because of the deep sea port’s economic potential while others are unhappy with the prospect of Gwadar assuming a strategic importance. They want to create chaos in Balochistan to pose problems both before and after the completion of the project. Pakistan cannot allow terrorists to play havoc in the province. This play has already obliterated the life a patriotic Baloch in particular and society in general. Education also became the victim in this war of narrative. To counter this, a multipronged and coordinated move, including talks, rewards and force has undertaken by the civil government assisted by the Pakistan army. Through unfeigned approach of all stake holders, the separatists and rebellions are returning home after surrendering to the state.

Balochistan sees a new dawn in 2017. The students are moving ahead in education with some extra pace. The foresightedness of civilian and military leadership on education will yield fruits in next few years. I see, and predict, in coming years, the students from all over Pakistan will be wishing to have their degree from any university in Balochistan.


About Author

He is currently an M.Phil researcher in University of Lahore in the field of Pharmacology. He has been national English declaimer and a member of Standing Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs in Youth Parliament Pakistan. He is the former president of Young Development Corps (a policy making project of Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms). He is currently writing articles for The Nation. He can be reached at sohaib.uol@gmail.com.

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