The decision of closing Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University Campus (SBK) and Polytechnical College in Khuzdar raises a host of questions about the government’s intentions.
According to The Balochistan Post news desk; the government of Balochistan has announced the closure of the above-mentioned educational institutions in Khuzdar. This decision has been prompted by a report presented by a committee set-up by the government. The buildings of the said institutions are to be handed over to Jhawalan Medical college. Jhalawan is currently functioning in the building of the Polytechnical college as its new building is still under construction.
Earlier this year, a committee was formed by the Balochistan government to evaluate Shaheed Sikandar University and Jhawalan Medical College and present recommendations on the future course of action. This committee issued its report which, shockingly, had recommended the closure of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University Campus and Polytechnical College in Khuzdar.
In January this year, the government had also announced the closure of Shaheed Sikandar University. That decision received criticism from student organizations, some political parties and the general public alike. It was considered a “conspiracy” from the “state” that was was being carried out by the “state-backed demagogues” to “deteriorate” the already pitiful education conditions of Balochistan. Following the public uproar, the government reconsidered its decision and the closure was cancelled.
Balochistan already functions on a weak education system. Educational institutions are scant – there are 8 universities, 77 colleges and 12,000 govt schools in total – and their quality is mediocre. The literacy rate was only 40 per cent for the decade 2010-20 – compared to 70 per cent in Sindh and 71 per cent in Punjab. Women’s participation in education is also thin. Under these circumstances, the closure of two institutions simultaneously raises questions about the government’s fidelity to Balochistan.
Nazeer Baloch, the chairman of Baloch Student Organization, described this announcement as an act “animosity with education.” He said that “this [act] shows that the promises of development in Balochistan are pretexts for the plundering of its resources and exploitation of its people.” He further stated that the students of Balochistan were barred from politics in the past and subjected to “tyranny” and “oppression”. “Plans are being formulated to shut the educational institutions in Balochistan. The closure of Women’s University Campus and the Khuzdar Polytechnical college are obvious examples”, he stated. He further said that the closure of educational institutions will not be tolerated. “If this situation persists, resistive strategies will be announced”, he warned.
The representative of the National Party said that, through this action, the “selected” government wants to keep Balochistan backwards. He also said that NP and its democratic aides will launch a movement against the closure of institutions. He further stated that a mindset has persisted since antiquity that wants to uproot all the development projects in Balochistan. “Politicians must wake up, and learn from the Agriculture College Quetta incident”, he stated. He also claimed that the National Party will approach the Balochistan High Court in regards to the closure of educational institutions.