Oct 31 - Nov 6, 20

Being a tribal, the most backward and a closed society, Balochistan's development poses enormous challenges, which can be met only through educating the people on modern lines.

The province in fact, needs educational academies, not the army garrisons. Role of education in revolutionizing the social attitudes, economic trends, and political mindsets in a society is a fait accompli. It is highly important to develop human resources and open up the society for economic activities and foreign investment. It is the educational backwardness that gives rise to negative perceptions over the development of an area.

Education achievement reflects the province's over all low development indicators. The province has proved to be the slowest with only a two percent increase in its literacy rate during the past 10 years.

The province has only progressed from 36 to 38 percent. Credible surveys place the province in the lowest rank of literacy rate among both males and females and the lowest ranking in the Gender Parity Index (GPI). It also lags behind all the three provinces in the Net Enrolment Rate (NER).

There is a strong correlation between household income and school enrollment. Long walking distances, lack of basic amenities, and teacher absenteeism are some of the main factors, together with poor-quality teaching and learning materials, that are responsible for low enrollment. Income-based inequities are a leading cause of low access to school education.

Balochistan is the poorest province of Pakistan, with standards of living and social indicators lagging substantially behind the rest of the country. Human development indicators are the weakest among the four provinces and improvements will need concerted efforts over the long term. The least developed and the least populous province has ever remained on the political periphery of the country.

On the other hand, being strategically located in the region and having vast untapped natural resources, diversity of climate, simultaneously five ecological zones, fisheries and strategic mineral resources like natural gas, copper, lead, zinc, iron and marble, it has the potential to emerge as Pakistan's new economic frontier.

Balochistan's poor education performance in the aggregate can be attributed largely to its poor record in educating girls. Only about one-third of girls, who should be in primary school, are enrolled in the province. Though mean boys' enrollment rates are not high either, especially among the poor, overall education levels cannot be improved without making a significant advance in the education of girls.

Undoubtedly, an effective and sustained educational reform hinges on a combination of policy and institutional changes. Equally important is to invest the right amounts for the appropriate types of education.

The situation of educational facilities in all parts of the province excluding Quetta is worst. The major problem is lack of quality of instruction due to teacher absenteeism, poor facilities, and lack of school supplies. Quality of education is the major factor resulting in low enrolment and high dropout rates. Lack of access is a problem for certain remote population in Balochistan, as schools remain closed due to unavailability of teachers.

Expansion of elementary and secondary schools may be required in certain locations to accommodate remote areas and increasing enrolment of students, especially girls. Special efforts are needed to rationalize resources and to improve the internal efficiency of the education system.

Performance improvement in the educational arena can yield great potential returns in terms of development in Balochistan. Undeniably, business education is the highest-return investment available in the province. Business education at all levels-secondary, higher and university- can revolutionize the social attitudes, economic trends, and political mindsets in Balochistan.

The province has short of professionals and experts. It lacks the institutional capacity and human capital to utilize its vast natural resources. The province needs academicians, research scholars and professionals, as institutional and human development is a prerequisite for its development.

Investment in professional education will provide Balochistan the required professionals for the development of various sectors of local economy. The better human capital equipped with professional education can be instrumental in increased productivity with modern technology in all economic sectors. It is essential for the local youth to have some knowledge on business, as the business world is currently developing at a rapid pace. Business education is directed at the study and research in the field of business. The province needs more and more bachelors and masters in business administration

There is scope for collaboration between the public and private sectors in education, targeting low-income households, in Balochistan. Opening up the system to non-public provision with public-sector financial support can increase access and improve equity. This support will increase enrollment and the low-income families will benefit.

The government should encourage private sector but put checks on commoditization of education and ensure educational system free from discriminatory practices for all the citizens of Pakistan.

Most of the private educational institutes have commercialized the professional education by charging high fees making it unaffordable for the common people. In other words, professional education has become a privilege of only rich, who can afford costly educational packages offered by the private institutions. These private institutions have developed a symbol of status by offering costly educational packages to aristocratic classes of the society.

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. The ground realities call for a rational and long-term planning for development of human resources in Balochistan.

The social sector in Balochistan has suffered from years of neglect and under-funding. The province has limited room to increase its social sector expenditures partly because of its high debt-service burden. The social sector expenditures mostly go to salaries, while non-salary expenditures are well below the global norms for the efficient and effective functioning of the social sectors.

Only the educated, skilled, and healthy people can make the best use of the enormous natural resources of the province. Therefore, in any development strategy for the province, human resource development should be the key factor.