HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN BALOCHISTAN: ISSUES & CHALLENGES

SYED FAZL-E-HAIDER
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Dec 20 - 26, 20
10

The social scientists are of the view that human development indicators in Balochistan are among the most challenging in South Asia and their improvement will need concerted efforts over the long term.

The predominantly patriarchal social structures are a traditional challenge to human development. The rugged and inaccessible terrain, limited water resources for irrigation, large illiterate population, ethnic diversity, and traditional women's status are added challenges to economic growth and human development in the province. The province is yet to make significant attainments in the human development index (HDI), which focuses on measurable dimensions of human development such as living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. Thus, HDI combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy, and income. The government should work out a roadmap for development of human resources in the province.

The key areas need to be focused for human development in Balochistan include a rational and long-term planning, on-job training programs, technical education according to the needs of 21st century, secondary level education for development of critical skills, allocation of significant resources, setting up of technology institutes in various districts, the recruitment of qualified teachers, instructors and trainers, access to the high-tech computing services, information technology, scientific management related education, and value adding knowledge.

The modern economists use the term 'human capital' for education, health and other human capacities that can raise productivity when increased. The analysis of investments in health and education is unified in human capital approach. The human capital approach focuses on the indirect ability of education and health to increase utility by increasing incomes. Investment in human capital formation means investment in education and health sectors.

Only the educated, skilled, and healthy people can make the best use of the enormous natural resources of Balochistan. The better human capital equipped with education in science and technology can be instrumental in increased productively with modern technology in all economic sectors. This will enhance industrial productivity and increase exportable output of the province.

Performance improvement in the educational arena can yield great potential returns in terms of development in the province. With low participation in general education and low completion rates at primary and secondary levels, the unemployment and underemployment rates in the province are higher than the national rates.

The province has a poor record in educating girls. Only about one-third of girls, who should be in primary school, are enrolled in the province. The province's gross primary school enrollment rates shows a significant disparity between male and female enrollment. Overall education levels cannot be improved without making a significant advance in the education of girls in the province. The social divide in enrollment along gender lines should be eliminated in the province

Technical education and vocational training (TEVT) system in Balochistan suffers from many structural and operational problems, leading to poor education quality, unequal access, limited resources, low efficiency, and weak linkage with the labor market. High dropout rates and a passing rate of less than half for examinations attest to the inefficiency of polytechnic programs. Finding work for graduates also takes a long time, partly because the skills needed for the jobs available are mismatched with the technical education given.

There are only two polytechnics under the Directorate of Colleges, Higher and Technical Education in Balochistan. The province lags behind other provinces in terms of access to TEVT, with the two polytechnics and 11 training centers serving a population of more than 7.7 million. Former provincial government had approved the establishment of a separate Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) in anticipation of expanding technical education in the province, and support for implementing this is urgently needed. Access to quality TEVT programs also remains limited, especially for the rural populations.

Local youth are still deprived of the opportunities and facilities, which are necessary to make development in any field of science and technology. Computer literacy is the high demand of present digital age. The government should take steps to strengthen IT industry in the province.

A healthy population can work better for the economic progress of the province fully utilizing its capabilities and skills. For obtaining this health capital in the province, there is a high need to resolve basic and pressing issues related to the health sector.

The health indicators in Balochistan like infant and mother mortality are poorer than any other province. Major causes of water-related diseases include lack of water supply and sanitation facilities, absence of proper sewerage disposal, waste mismanagement, and contaminated water. These diseases can be prevented by facilitating the population with proper sewerage and sanitation disposal systems.

In rural areas, the health status is relatively poor. Lack or absence of female health staff including female doctors in rural areas worsen the situation. According to an estimate, there is only one doctor available for 7300 persons in average.

The social indicators are also appalling in the province with illiteracy nearly at 60 per cent, a small scattered population in large area, low primary school enrolment ratio and insufficient facilities for healthcare. The interplay of geographic, cultural, ethnic, historical, political, and other factors in Balochistan poses governance and institutional challenges with major implications for the quality of social service delivery. The ratio of cost of providing public services in least populous and area-wise largest Balochistan is about three times higher than that in other provinces

Human development provides a wide range of choices and opportunities to the people for employment, nutrition, education, and health care. Sustainable growth and poverty reduction objectives are concomitantly linked to significant investment in human capital.

The good governance is essential for the development of human resources. It ensures the transparency, efficiency, and rationality in the utilisation of public funds and national resources, encourages growth of the private sector, promotes effective delivery of public services, and helps establish the rule of law. Along with good governance, the people friendly policies, and sound macroeconomic management are also of immense importance in this context.

Poverty in the province is a consequence of several factors, including geography and low human capital. Though poverty in the province is more "shared" poverty, income-based inequities in human development must be addressed. To meet the needs of the people, educational institutions and vocational training centres must be established across the province.

There is an urgent need to focus on improvement and formation of human capital for the province to tap internal and external markets, and capitalize on market-driven economic growth. Governance reforms in the province need to be implemented and the institutions in the social sector must be strengthened to improve the effectiveness of public and private social service delivery.