Baqaul Mohsin

The Punjab interim government has reportedly decided to close down in March, 2014 the 75 community schools set up under the Literate Cholistan Project in 2009 in Cholistan, thereby depriving more than 5,000 schoolchildren of education.

However, a total of 40,000 children of Cholistan already have no opportunity to get education and are grazing their animals due to non availability of schools. The decision has exposed the tall claims about the promotion of education and education for all. The flawed policies of the government and the so called public representatives of the area always caused a great deal of problems to the people and confusion about the future of their children.

Under the Literate Cholistan Project, the schools were set up at a cost of Rs57.905 million for five years for primary education and two teachers for every school were appointed with the pay of Rs2,500 and Rs5,000 for junior and seniors teachers respectively. The provision of buildings was the responsibility of the inhabitants of that locality where each school exists. A summary to the government of Punjab was sent by the Cholistan Development Authority managing director for an increase in the teachers’ salaries in 2011 but to no avail.

Now, the government has decided to close down these schools in March 2014. The closures will create more problems in the life of Cholistanis. Around 50,000 children are unable to go schools due to unavailability of education facilities and they are forced to waste their life in the traditional set-up of desert because only seven government primary schools and 41 community schools of the CDA are working. Moreover, 11 government primary schools and 21 community schools besides other schools are working in the Cholistani area spreading over 6,655, 360 acres of land. A total of 5,083 children have been enrolled in these schools with missing facilities.

According to the available reports, the children of Cholistan are facing a number of problems in getting proper education as the schools set up by the Education Department Punjab and the CDA are without any suitable building and sufficient staff. Even then, the result of the existing the 21 schools and 75 non-formal Community schools of the Cholistan Development Authority, Bahawalpur in the primary class examinations during the last two years were quite encouraging and appreciable. The results show the Cholistani children’s interest in education so it is the high time to conduct a thorough survey in this regard to introduce proper education system in the desert to secure the future of the neglected area’s children.

On the other hand, teachers posted in these schools are also facing difficulties and problems. The teachers say, “We are performing for a noble cause of education for better society and progressive country under tough conditions while teachers of same academic and professional qualification are getting pay up to Rs40,000 working in better condition at rural and urban areas while we have to take classes under the open sky.

It is quite astonishing that nobody has taken serious step to promote education in the neglected part of the country as there is no middle school under private or government sectors.