SINDH - PAKISTAN : For the first time - the Sindh government has compiled data on private schools operating in the province, which reveals a bleak image of educational standards in the province.

Private schools are commonly believed to offer quality education alongside providing better co-curricular facilities for holistic development of children / students.

HOWEVER, the data collected by the provincial government paints a different picture altogether - a horribly depressing one.

Many private schools in Sindh operate even without the basics like electricity or clean drinking water and lack other critical amenities such as science labs and internet facilities - let alone organising sports events and cultural activities.

Even the administrative staff and teaching faculty lack access to fundamentals like office computers and staff rooms. It is no surprise then that educational outcomes in Sindh remain poor.

Another alarming revelation is the low enrolment rate of FEMALE students in the province, which is 9% lower compared to boys. Clearly, the efforts of the provincial government to promote education for girls have fallen short even by our national standards and failed to overcome the regressive and sexist norms prevalent in society.

The absence of facilities such as separate bathrooms for female students has further impeded efforts to promote education for girls.

Rising incidents of sexual harassment and abuse in educational institutions against female teachers and students serve as another factor having a direct bearing on enrolment of girls in schools.

Families see little benefit in educating their daughters and prefer keeping them at home for domestic chores, etc.

Unfortunately sexist ideas permeate all socioeconomic classes. Limiting women's access to education affects their prospects and increases the likelihood of violence and suppression against them.

It also hampers overall societal progress as women - who are uneducated or less educated - are unable to participate in the labour force and struggle to raise empowered and educated children.

The relevant provincial government authorities must take the recent data as a sign to pressure private schools to improve educational standards and provide students with appropriate facilities especially because many of these schools continue charging exorbitant tuition fees as well as extra charges in the name of co-curricular activities.

Perhaps, the provincial education department must be directed to delegate a separate committee to monitor and regulate private schools.

In addition, the government must take concrete measures such as awareness campaigns coupled with financial incentives to promote girls' education to uplift and empower young girls.

The World Students Society and the Students of Pakistan thank the Editorial Board of The Express Tribune.


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