Herronk, a village some 60 km from Turbat city, has a population of more than 10,000 people. Although the villagers have become known for their efforts at getting education and jobs, but still we observe a great number of children away from schools. I have identified the following basic reasons: poverty, lack of awareness about the benefits of education, lack of interest, family pressure and so forth. The village has five schools. There is a government primary school for girls, a government middle school for girls, a government primary school for boys, a government high school for boys and a private primary school for both the genders. Despite the given schools in the village, we see children working in garages and shops. They may be seen working as masons and gardening as farmers with their parents. Most others have turned to opportunities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for jobs, at very young ages.
As I personally belong to the village, I see children wandering uselessly and not coming to schools. Many others in the schools quit at varying levels of education. Some quit after they finish their primary schooling. Certain others leave during middle school – and the rest after the matriculation. Students who persevere beyond this can either turn to Quetta the provincial capital or Turbat itself for a higher education.
One major reason for those who quit is early marriage. When students reach at an age of 15 to 18, they mostly get married off, which results in dropping out from the schools. They do not feel education to be a need once they are married, other than an opportunity to secure a governmental job. But for this, they adopt the private examination method to get their degrees.
Regrettably, whenever someone from the village manages to secure a good job, they migrate from the village and never comes back: certainly not to have interactive sessions with the students and other villagers and guide them
Poverty is another reason which compels many of thr village youth to quit their education. In Herronk, an estimated 90% of villagers are living in poverty. Mostly after matriculation they cannot afford to send their children outside the village for a higher education, whereas the village itself can only provide an education till the matric level. Despite the fact that women sew clothes in their spare time, they still cannot manage to educate more than one or two of their children; the rest must begin working to help their parents financially.
Family pressure is among the other factors leading to dropping out of so many children of Herronk. In my village, many people have some ideas that seem out of place in today’s world. For instance, some believe that it is not part of the customs and traditions of the Baloch nation to send girls out for any reason – be it for education or anything else. This, of course, is simply not true. The belief is all to common that girls are for merely sewing clothes and boys for earning money. And when they grow up to reach anywhere from 15 to 18 years of age, they are to get married and then give birth to children. Owing to such marriages, the young couples cannot have proper family planning. In fact, in some cases in Herronk, they have even committed suicide.
One thing that I find particularly unfortunate is how we lose the opportunities to inspire people with positive examples – for after all, people are impressionable and success is an excellent argument in favour of more open-minded attitudes. Regrettably, whenever someone from the village manages to secure a good job, they migrate from the village and never comes back: certainly not to have interactive sessions with the students and other villagers and guide them about education and its benefits. They leave their home because they see better facilities in cities and permanently move there. Now, of course, I have no objection to them settling in cities, but I often find myself thinking that they should, at the very least, make visits to their village from time to time. This would enable them to guide their youth, especially those who are confused about getting an education.
One other major defect which is common not only across Balochistan but all of Pakistan is that of unskilled teachers. There is nothing in Herronk’s schools in the way of inspiring teachers who might be able to impress the children to be attentive in classes. Hence, their minds get diverted to another world during the classes, which results in zero retention of knowledge. “Children see magic because they look for it,” – or so they say. But Herronk’s children find little magic in the classroom.
With more attention from the government as well as those of our people who have achieved professional success in life, I believe it is well within our grasp to turn things around within a generation. These children should not be neglected or ignored, for that will be a tragedy indeed: a missed opportunity to build the future.