Balochistan struggles with equal educational opportunities

Allah Baksh Baloch

Baloch women still not given equal educational opportunities despite constitutional guarantees of“education for all”.

Thousands of girls in Balochistan go to school today but multiple barriers continue to force millions of them to stay home – an issue that has got little attention by federal and provincial government so far.

We know educating men and women is equally important for a nation to progress and compete with the world. Likewise, contribution of women in the development of a country can never be neglected. However, in Balochistan, many factors such as limited opportunities, gender stereotypes, early marriage and poverty hardly allow them to continue their journey of education.

Although Balochistan covers 43% of the whole country – that makes it the largest province by landmass, it is the least populated and lags behind in socioeconomic prospects. Being the hub of the billion-dollar project of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), Balochistan by now should have eliminated all kinds of social inequalities but sadly, it has not been the case.

Today, Balochistan has the largest number of illiterate women in the country with only 2 out of 10 women being literate, according to Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurements. The situation appears to be worse in rural areas that represent a sad picture of lives of women, their literacy rate and standards of living. Many consider this the result of initial negligence by the Provincial government in every past decade. 

Most regions in the world recognized the right to quality educational for every citizen in the last century. Today most of those nations value women’s contribution in education, politics, economy, and society as a whole. In terms of Balochistan, we yet have a long way to go. We yet have to see our women actively participating in key decision-making positions. And this can only be possible when our women are educated. This means the government will have to step forward to remove all kinds of discriminations, barriers whether legal or social and make it possible for every young girl to access equality education within their area.  

As a society, we haveto question ourselves, whether Balochs can move forward without including womenin all social, political and economic forums? We know that Balochistangovernment in recent time, has demonstrated great interest in higher educationwhich can be seen in shape of University of Turbat, its sub-campus in Gwadarand more recently passing a bill for University of Gwadar.

These are very importantsteps for including our women in educational progress, since, it is easier forwomen to get educated in their own hometowns than travelling far away. Highereducation is important, but it is equally important to eliminated inequalities,poverty, gender stereotypes and lack of access at primary levels that arehindering young girls to move forward to the secondary or higher level.

Finally, it is time government and society take steps to change the way education for girls hasbeen seen for centuries. It is time, to distribute equal educational rights to both genders to achieve the dream of a progressive society in Balochistan.

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