Daily Times, Pakistan
The recent harsh spell of snowfall across the country has claimed hundreds of lives. Balochistan has faced the wrath of harsh weather too. After the government’s resources fell short of assisting hundreds of people stuck on roads awaiting help, local people came forward to accomplish this feat. Mr Suleman Khan, a resident of Kuchlak, rescued 100 people struggling between a life-and-death situation on Quetta-Shob highway blocked after a heavy snowfall. Khan is hailed a hero because of his gallant and heroic act, which has saved many precious lives. There are myriad of such unsung heroes among us, which are engaged in accomplishing (within their capacity or strength) tiny but equally lucrative tasks for the benefit of society.
After sorting out the list of heroes and heroines, the recent unpredictable and ruthless cold spell has begotten. There remain other heroic names to be reckoned with. Mr Shabir Rakhshani’s campaign “Balochistan Education System” has also earned him a heroic name. The Balochistan Education System aims to identify loop holes in the education system of Balochistan. The campaign initially started identifying non-functional government schools in Awaran. The first success of the campaign on count was the functioning of Government Boys Primary School, Abdul Sattar Goth, which had been non-functional for a long time. It was the first school, which snowballed into the idea of Balochistan Education System.
Awaran is reckoned among the least facilitated areas of Balochistan. Seen through the development lens, Awaran does not do well on many social indicators. The arrow hits the lowest end on education and health graph. In May 2018, hundreds of residents of Tranchik, a village situated in Awaran, suffered from severe gastroenteritis. The outbreak killed six people. Subsequently, most patients were shifted to Hub for treatment. Thus, the outbreak exposed dilapidated health system in Awaran.
The literature festival was arranged by ordinary masses and its peaceful culmination rejected the widely accepted “security” related myths
Similarly, the education indicator also withers. Awaran had an insignificant score (0.173) on Human Development Index in 2017. In the same year, Alif Ailan ranked Awaran 137 out of 141 districts in District Education ranking. However, with the steadfast efforts of Balochistan Education System, the rotten education system of district has seen the light of the day. The campaign has so far exposed 192 closed schools in the district. The campaign has disclosed mismanagement of funds released for non-functional schools. More or less 60 non-functional schools, identified by the campaign, have continuously been allocated funds!
Spokesperson of Balochistan Education System, Shabir Rakhshani, believes that the primary aim of the campaign was to highlight the plight of government schools in Awaran and the campaign started to make one of the non-functional schools functional. Mr Raskhshani says that after the campaign’s struggle to identify non-functional schools, Awaran has become a case study, result of which can be generalised across the province to evaluate the educational progress. Steadfast in carrying the campaign ahead, Mr Rakhshani believes that the campaign has achieved its success as its aim to drag the attention of concerned departments and authorities seems to have been successful.
Interestingly, though backward in literary terms, the recently held Awaran Literary Festival has resurrected education in the district. With the support of local administration of the district, Balochistan Education System organised Awaran Literary Festival on 21 and 22 January. The festival was divided into two parts-a whole day (the second part) was reserved women. The guest speakers, who attended the events, travelled across the province. A wide range of issues were discussed ranging from contemporary education in the province to contribution of women in social uplift of the province. The literary festival has shunned a plethora of stereotypes related to Balochistan and Awaran in particular.
Moreover, the festival has helped break two prevailing clichés and stereotypes. Firstly, the literature festival was arranged by ordinary masses and its peaceful culmination rejected the widely accepted ‘security’ related myths. Following intermittent insurgent movements, the entire province has dramatically been wrapped around with stereotypical ‘insecurity-perspective’ layer. The stereotype has embedded with the passage of time given its pernicious outcome risking one’s security while entering in province. However, travelling to backward areas made it more risky-a general belief held by a many.
Secondly, one of the foremost and most negatively affecting stereotype ‘illiterate or illiteracy’-the term mostly assigned to the people hailing from different rural areas of Balochistan-has started crumbling. The literature festival unveils the truth that the people of Awaran are enthusiast to learn and contribute to nation building process.
On a political note, Awaran has been home to prominent politicians. The Bezinjos have often been propelled to the seats of power through PB-44 and NA-270-with whatever number of votes, 500-5000! Notwithstanding, Awaran portrays a gloomy picture in terms of educational and health development.
The initiative by Balochistan Education System has brought educational loopholes and mismanagement to limelight. Now, the complicated phase of identifying and diagnosing of the ailment is in hand. It’s is need of the hour to awake the field ‘specialists’ to treat the ailment. For all struggles, the appreciation goes to team and supporters of Balochistan Education System. Bravo, Balochistan Education System!
The writer is a freelance journalist and researcher