Women hold up half the sky? Not so in Sindh, Balochistan and FATA

December 21, 2017
Minerwa Tahir

By Minerwa Tahir

KARACHI: While the lion’s share of the last two annual budgets in Sindh was allocated to education, it seems that the funds are not being steered into the right direction. The fifth annual District Education Rankings, launched in Islamabad by Alif Ailaan last week, paint a not very rosy picture in the province in terms of quality of education as well as girl education. Similar or worse patterns were observed in Balochistan and FATA.

According to the press release issued by Alif Ailaan, the rankings use official government data from across the country, along with data from the ASER survey, to assess the performance of districts in education. Provinces were assessed for their performances against indicators such as total provincial score, learning score, retention score and gender parity score.

As per the rankings, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and ICT show some progress across all indicators. Unfortunately, Balochistan, Sindh and FATA continue to lag behind in all the indicators, maintaining the last three ranks. “The 2017 rankings show that while certain parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Punjab have made marked improvements in school infrastructure, the pace of progress in Sindh, Balochistan and FATA remains a concern,” read the press release.

The abysmal state of public sector education can be gauged from the fact that not a single district from Balochistan, Sindh or FATA appears in the list of top 10.

The top 10 scoring districts comprise five from Punjab, four from AJK and one from K-P. The highest ranked district from Sindh is Karachi West at the 14th position, followed by Karachi Malir with the 15th rank.

From Balochistan, the highest ranked district is Quetta, standing at the 45th position.

While these rankings lay bare the priorities of our elected representatives, the most appalling part still remains that Balochistan, Sindh and FATA, in this particular order, have maintained the last three ranks in all the total provincial, learning, retention and gender parity scores.

These indicators depict the kind of quality of education in the provinces as well as the extent to which our lawmakers care about educating our girls. While women may have held up half the sky for Mao, they are not deserving of their basic right to education in the eyes of the lawmakers of Sindh, Balochistan and FATA.

Class angle

An interesting pattern has nevertheless emerged out of these rankings. Karachi West, comprising Lyari, Keamari, SITE, Baldia and Orangi Town, is the highest ranked district in the entire province of Sindh. The rankings are in direct contradiction with common perception about these areas, which are mostly seen as downtrodden and comprising the working class. It seems that the working class of the city, deprived of the luxuries of private schools, is comparatively exhibiting the best patterns – at least in terms of state education!