DEVELOPMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES IN BALOCHISTAN

Need skilled manpower

SYED ALAM DAR ALI
July 09 - 15, 2007

Availability of abundant and skilled Human Resources is a need of modern age. There are empirical evidences that rapid economic development cannot be made without setting up of new industries. Consequently new industries cannot be setup unless the entrepreneur, over and above factors, has surety that ample skilled human resources will be able without any hindrance. Unfortunately, Balochistan is suffering also from this dilemma. The province is rich in its natural resources. It has 700Km long coastline. There are plenty of natural resources worth billions of dollars hidden underneath its mountains. These precious resources however, will have no meaning unless its human resources are developed enough to take advantage of these. At the same time it should be kept in mind that the concept of good governance cannot be implemented without a population with the basic level of education. The authorities and the economists therefore are of the opinion that human resource development is the key factor for any sort of development in the province. Here are some for the problems confronted by the authorities to execute this task:

Lack of Education: Lack of Education is the most important factor contributing towards unavailability of skilled human resources in the province. Since the establishment of Pakistan in 1947 Balochistan is the most neglected Province regarding the provision of education. The literacy rate is only about 22% which is amongst the lowest in the world. Out of the total population of children in the province only about 50% are enrolled for primary education, and many of them leave the school almost in the first year of to help their parents win the bread for their families. The authorities also do not seem to be interested in improving the situation. There are only about 7,000 schools and about 15,000 primary schools teachers in the whole province. Further to put the cherry on the top the government instead of promoting education has started to close non-functioning schools in the province! All of the blame for this education dilemma cannot be put on the government alone. The residents and the private sector are equally responsible for it. The Sardars of the areas are not interested in establishing their own schools in their area on "Help ourselves basis". The Have's of other provinces are reluctant to invest in Balochistan due to Tribal System. There is therefore a need of taking initiatives on the part of the government and the local private sector as well to upgrade exiting and establish new schools and also to start schemes like "Parha Likha Punjab" in the Province.

Inadequate Health Facilities: Balochistan is the Province which enjoys the least health facilities for the masses living over there. Major diseases, like malaria, respiratory, urinary tract and gastrointestinal infections, tuberculosis, hepatitis, typhoid and malnutrition are still very common in most areas. In a population survey in the province it was revealed that about 85% of the population reported atleast one sick family member; amongst the poor the condition was worst that was 90%, while the nation average is 75%. In such a condition none of the entrepreneur would ever try to establish its industrial unit in such an area. This situation wants immediate attention from the government and the private sector. The government should establish atleast one Hospital in every town and arrange for the proper qualified medical staff. At the same time the masses of Balochistan should be encouraged to send their children for education in medicine so that they can have proper resident medical staff in their own area instead of asking from the government to send someone from some other areas that have been proven expensive for the government itself.

Women Education and Training in the Province: Women Education and skill development is another chapter in the province. Most of tribes do not want to send their daughters to the schools because they believe that the women are meant to become housewives only! There is therefore a very strong need to change this kind of thinking in order to get any kind of development. By making half of the populations sit at home and contributing nothing towards economic development is by no means a positive sign for the province. In this regard the government and the NGO's both should come forward and work at grass root level with the involvement of the Sardars of the relevant tribes.

Poor Communication Infrastructure: The poor communication infrastructure is another cause of poor human resource development in the province. The provisions for the improved human living standards cannot be made available to the masses of Balochistan due to unavailability of roads and other communication mechanisms in the remote areas of Balochistan. Even if the government approves any budget to improve the situation the whole of the resources evaporate with no material outcome. There are many projects that have been completed on papers but do not exit in reality. In order to make any concrete effort in this regard it is again recommended that local sardars should be included in any planning for such programmes.

Planning for Human resource Development: The population of the Balochistan according an estimate is about 8.500M. With the total area of approximately 347,000 SQM the population density is 23 per square kilometer. These are the key figures for initiating any planning for the development of human resources. Apart from the spread of elementary education as discussed earlier the focus should also be made on secondary and vocational education to produce skilled masses in the province. Secondary and skilled education is the need for skilled labor. The natural resources can only be utilized if skilled labor is available. Industries aiming at processing of raw materials available in the Province, be it agricultural produce or minerals can only have a fighting chance of success if skilled labor can be supplied locally. Based on this consideration the Government intends to upgrade and broaden the base of the vocational training and education facilities in the Province, wherever possible in cooperation with the private sector.