Tharparkar has been one of the most administratively neglected regions in the country. Since day one, the experience of this region has been one of seeing only governments changing – but no change in the fate of poverty-stricken Tharis. Be it the provision of safe drinking water or proper healthcare, Tharis always find themselves accorded a lower priority. Beside hundreds of other pressing problems, the provision of quality education services in Thar has always been a daunting challenge.
The situation may be summed up by pointing out that at present there is not a single university in all of Tharparkar. Some 5,000 students suffer the consequences every year – remaining unable to continue their higher education after passing intermediate exams.
“My father doesn’t have money to send me to Hyderabad or Karachi so that I can also acquire more (university level) education” Qurban Ali Samejo answers when asked why he didn’t continue his education after intermediate. Qurban is not the only one in desert whose educational journey has ended on a disappointing note.
18-year-old Mohan Lal says “My father died some years ago. Since then I am the only caretaker of my mother and two sisters. So how can I leave them and go to Hyderabad or Karachi to get higher education?”
This scribe interviewed 40 boys and 10 girls of different villages and towns of the district who recently passed their intermediate examination but are not going to continue their advanced education. The main reasons behind this misfortune are the poverty in the region and the unavailability of a public university in the district.
According to a recent survey from an NGO, every year around 9,000 students pass intermediate examinations from various colleges of district Tharparkar but hardly 1,000 can reach university level
According to a recent survey from an NGO, every year around 9,000 students pass intermediate examinations from various colleges of district Tharparkar but hardly 1,000 can reach university level to fulfill their dreams in life.
At present there are three colleges and nine higher secondary schools in Tharparkar which foster 8,000 to 9,000 students (both boys and girls) every year. Up to this stage their life can run mostly parallel to the thousands of well educated youth across the country. The system, unfortunately, does not allow them to proceed further in Tharparkar, because there is no university.
In Thar, well-off parents and families send their children to Hyderabad, Karachi, Islamabad or even other countries to acquire post-intermediate education whilst the sons and daughters of the poor stay there in Tharparkar and keep bearing the brunt of an unnoticed existence till the very last stage of their lives.
Every year around 200 students (boys and girls) get admission in Thar’s only Degree College i.e. Sadiq Faqeer Degree College Mithhi which offers degrees in only two disciplines i.e. Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce. The college administration fails to organize regular classes for the students. Most of the efforts of the administration appear focused on marking fictitious attendance of students and administering examinations rife with cheating. In the end, students who do get degrees can’t even tell you what “B.Sc.” stands for!
The current vice chancellor of Sindh University Doctor Fateh Muhammad Burfat in 2016 announced to establish a campus of Sindh University in Mithhi. During the same visit to Thar he requested the administration of Sadiq Faqeer Degree College Mithhi to hand over half of their newly constructed building for the campus, which was being used for the classes of Allama Iqbal Open University. He also appointed Muhammad Saleem Chandio (who was the registrar of Sindh University at that time) as Focal Person for this purpose and announced that admissions in University of Sindh Mithhi Campus will be kicked off by next year i.e. 2017.
In the 2017 admission prospectus of Sindh University Jamshoro, the university administration mentioned the schedule of starting classes for Bachelor in English, Commerce, Information Technology and Business Administration but nothing further happened. Almost three years have been passed to that announcement. The dream of locals to have a Thar Campus of Sindh University is still a dream.
In August 2018, PPP member of provincial assembly Surendar Valasai submitted a resolution in Sindh Assembly in which he demanded that Sindh government must establish a public university in Thar. He not only suggested a name for the university, I.e. “Shaheed Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto University of Thar” but also provided a valid reason behind his demand. According to him, Mirpurkhas division consists of four districts including Tharparkar. The division has an overall population of around 5.5 million but sadly there is not a single public university available which can cater to the need of thousands of young people in this region.
Two months ago, during the inauguration ceremony of a 660 MW Coal Power Plant in Thar, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also announced that the PPP government will establish a campus of NED University Karachi and a new university, as early as possible. So far not much appears to have come out of this announcement.
Recently a campaign has been started by local students, educationists, social activists, members of civil society organizations and many other people from different walks of life via social media – aimed at developing a pressure group so that the government entities can be made aware regarding the need of a university in Thar.
But for the young people of Thar, it appears there is still a long way to go.
The writer is a freelance contributor and he can be reached at email@example.com