The bleak future of this country is guaranteed by the simple fact that the welfare of its children is nowhere to be found on the priority list of the leadership. No investment is more important than the one made for the education of our children. Especially when so few amongst so many are enrolled in schools. And amongst those few, even fewer are receiving an education of any real quality. The alarming state of the education system in Sindh is a result of consistent disinterest, incompetence and of course, corruption. Half of the children aged between 5 and 16 do not attend schools, an overwhelming 6.1 million girls amongst them. Between primary and secondary schools, no less than half a million students drop out. Considering the extremely poor learning outcome of those who choose to stay, one can safely say that school dropouts aren’t really missing out on too much.

Then, there is the little matter of educational apartheid in the province. Like the rest of the country, there is a great disparity between the private and public sector. The former is better but completely unaffordable for the poor. However, that is not to say the private sector is immune from all of the ills affecting public schools. The driving force for them is not education, but profit. That’s fine, as long as both aspects of the business (service and profit) are taken into account. Unfortunately, literacy doesn’t carry the same appeal as money-making for the concerned parties.

The condition of the public schools is shameful. The structures violate safety standards. The teachers are unqualified, or suffer from a serious lack of work ethic. By not introducing the timescale and promotion formula as done in Punjab and elsewhere, the Sindh government has failed to incentivize teaching as a profession. This has directly promoted corruption and mismanagement throughout the system. The teachers and professors at the protest in Karachi had similar demands; a proper promotion structure. In response, the government unleashed water cannons and the police upon them.

If the Sindh government really wishes to improve the state of affairs as it claims to, it will have to work on an emergency basis. Be it ghost schools, unethical teachers or corrupt management staff – all must be done away with. Lost time will not come back. It is utter foolishness to expect an illiterate and unskilled populace to achieve greatness for itself or the country.