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'1.8m children still out of school in Balochistan'

QUETTA: Around 1.8 million children are out of school in Balochistan as efforts continue to ensure greater enrolment in school, a seminar on non-formal education was told on Friday.

Speakers at the seminar expressed concern about the low literacy rate and increasing drop out rate.

The provincial education minister, Rahim Ziaratwal while speaking at the seminar revealed that 60 per cent of children quit education by the time they reach the primary and middle school level, whereas 45pc of students leave schooling prior to completion of their Matriculation.

“The increasing drop out rate of children is a major problem for the education department,” the minister lamented.

In Balochistan, more than 5,000 government-run primary schools are single-room and single-teacher schools.

The plight of these schools in rural Balochistan is miserable, with single room schools across the province shelter-less with no basic facilities such as clean drinking water and toilets for the children. “We have written a letter to the prime minister to support us in providing basic facilities to schools”, Mr Ziaratwal said.

In an attempt to improve the literacy rate in the province, the government decided to establish literacy centres.

According to statistics provided by the non-formal section of the education department, 4,500 children will be enrolled at literacy centres being established at Ziarat, Sibi, Zhob, Bolan and other parts of Balochistan.

The American Refugee Committee (ARC), an international organisation, has also assured to establish 1,000 literacy centres for promotion of literacy rate in Balochistan. Out-of-school children would be enrolled in these centres, the document said.

“An educated society is our goal”, Speaker Balochistan Assembly Raheela Durrani told the seminar.

She vowed to continue her efforts for provision of education to kids of marginalised and poor families in the province.

In Balochistan, the number of government-run primary, middle and high schools is greater than 13,000.

However, education department sources say that thousands of ghost teachers and schools remain in the province.

“A hundred schools have yet to be traced out in Quetta alone,” Secretary Education Balochistan Dr Omar Babar said.

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