In a meeting with a minister from Rahim Yar Khan District, I insisted time and again that the respected parliamentarian should visit one or two schools every time he comes to his constituency. I insisted so because parliamentarians have a habit of attending wedding and funeral ceremonies and their visits to educational institutions are very rare.
In our entire meeting I could not get a single positive sign from the minister that could yield hope in me that he will atleast plan to visit any school in his vicinity.
A few days later Shahid Khaqan Abbassi, Prime Minister of Pakistan visited Sadiqabad. In his public speech he expressed his gratitude towards local representatives as they haven’t demanded a single development scheme from him, which shows the government has fulfilled needs of South Punjab before their asking.
This scenario could have been different if the elected representatives had visited schools in their area instead of extending their appeasement towards the Prime Minister. They could have easily told the PM that the very constituency where Mr PM was delivering his speech neither has a college nor a higher secondary school. They could also have briefed Mr PM that 24 percent classes in Rahim Yar Khan are still being held in open air due to severe shortage of classrooms and this problem will get crude in coming days as enrollment drive is bringing more children to school.
If he had contacted education authorities, they could have briefed local representatives that 78 percent of the total schools are just primary and upgrading schools to middle, high and higher secondary level is the only way to ensure free and compulsory education for students of Rahim Yar Khan. While the pace of upgrading schools is very slow, it’s also limited to constituencies of PML-N MPAs.
A few minutes’ visit to any high school in the district could have exposed the status of science practical of 9th and 10th class. As per Annual School Census 2016-17, 31 percent high schools in RYK are deprived of science labs, while those schools having lab are short of lab apparatus.
All these things could have happened if elected representatives had treated provision of education as their priority. This prioritization may cost two hours to MPAs and MNAs on each of their visits to the constituency, but can produce everlasting results on educational facilities in their area.
Visiting a school by the concerned MPA/MNA can positively affect education sector in many ways. Firstly, it will give confidence to school administration that they can share their issues directly with them who have power to solve them. Existing scenario does not provide space to the school administration to demand anything or even raise their voice on the absence of facilities in their schools. They are supposed to deliver 100% with all their shortcomings.
Secondly, it will shift central axis of our politics from ‘Thana Kachhari’ to education which will not only serve for the betterment of education, but also help in de-politicization our police department.
Thirdly, most of the budget is currently being used for roads, sewerage, sowlings and other such projects that value nothing in securing future of a nation. This budget could be used on education by making it a priority, which will ensure prosperous Pakistan through long-term education development initiatives.
Recently Pakistan has seen competition between provinces regarding taking lead in an uplift of education on all levels. This completion is required to be shifted to constituency level and Election 2018 is the perfect time to develop that competition.
I am afraid that if we failed to center constituency level politics on education then the Prime Minister will keep coming to areas like South Punjab and keep adding salt to our wounds by proudly mentioning insensitivity of our politicians towards the development ofthe area.