Sometimes the “Foreign Hand” Is a Helping Hand. What About This?

[Considering the turmoil in Balochistan and the unfriendly foreign hands busily at work there, it is natural to question anything that says “made in the USA,” but in this case, we should take a closer look before we assume that this effort is like all the rest.  If the project is what it is claimed to be below, then it looks like it is giving Baloch kids (both boys and girls) a way out of the economic trap that holds them hostage.  We should start with finding-out what is in the curriculum and see what exactly they are teaching, but more importantly, what they are testing them for.  This tells us how they are categorizing and classifying the kids, revealing the patterns they are looking for.  Are they separating the potential leaders for indoctrination, or they using group teaching methods? 

Just like the land of Balochistan itself, young minds are being divided into groups or tribes, to accommodate the plans of those who intend to divide Balochistan from Pakistan.  Pakistani patriots will fight this division, especially in defense of their children, who are also in the sights of the new world planners.] 

Editorial: An unfriendly foreign education project for Balochistan

the Baloch Hal

A foreign non-governmental organization, Save the Children, has initiated a five-year project with the collaboration of Netherlands in Balochistan to improve the quality of education in the country’s least educated province. The projected has been launched amid great fanfare and media hype with projections of yielding positive results in the domain of education in Balochistan in the future. Under this project, a target of educating some 73000 children in the districts of Quetta, Mastung and Qila Abdullah has been set.

Balochistan Education Programme, as the project has been named, would especially focus on the education of girls in Balochistan where the women’s literacy rate is as low as 19 percent. The state of adult male literacy rate, 37%, is also not very encouraging. Thus, Balochistan’s education sector is confronted with multiple serious challenges which need to be overcome by paying constant attention.

The 8.8 million Euro project for Balochistan comes partly as good news for the education sector of Balochistan which seems to have suddenly become the hub of all the negative reports which emanate from Balochistan. Depressing news has been coming from the education sector of Balochistan in the recent times as many teachers have applied for no-objection certificates to leave the province in the wake of a spate of target killing of teachers. Not many foreign countries and non-governmental organizations have been enthusiastic to come forward to assist the education sector, or any other sector for that matter owing to growing law and order problems, in the troubled province.

Save the Children officials have not discussed in public, however, about the yardstick that was adopted to choose the three districts for its educational project. All the three districts which are going to benefit from the grand project do not necessarily fall in the category of the most backward places in Balochistan in the education sector. Quetta, Mastung and Qila Abdullah do not face the worst problems of accessibility and quality when compared with several other remote districts of Balochistan.

Given the selection of three districts with lesser needs, one believes Save the Children project has been trapped by vested political interest groups. These interest groups in the NGO-mafia have diverted a significant project away from the Baloch population which is direly in need of educational assistance. There are no indications that the majority but still deprived Baloch population would benefit from the project.

It is totally unfair to initiate projects on the name of Balochistan’s backwardness and then deprive the originally backward people of the province from the fruits of such projects. Save the Children would have done a commendable service to the people of Balochistan if it launched this project in a remote district like Dera Bugti where the women’s literacy rate is as low as only 2%. As the provincial capital of Balochistan, Quetta does not need any educational initiative from a foreign donor as it is already the center of hundreds of projects under progress. There are excellent public and private schools already imparting quality education in Quetta city. Similarly, scores of NGOs are also working for the women’s literacy in the provincial capital and its neighboring districts.

In the same way, Mastung is the closest district to the provincial capital whose students can easily come to Quetta every day to get education and go back home.  The selection of Mastung as one of the beneficiary of this project further gives currency to the perception that the project is politically-influenced given the fact that it happens to be the electoral constituency of the chief minister of Balochistan.

Qila Abullah is far better than many other districts of Balochistan in the field of education. Thus, Save the Children should review its selection of three districts with better state of education and divert the project to three most backward and deserving districts of Balochistan so that the project benefits the deserving people. We believe the international organization, which has a reputation for its excellent work done in the past, was badly misled by its consultants during the process of selecting districts. In fact, this is a major problem many international donor agencies face while working in Pakistan, particularly Balochistan. Their local staff loves to drawn handsome salaries but refuses to go to remote and backward places to work. This time, people working in the education project have also thought on similar lines that they would draw hefty sums as salary while living in Quetta. If they are required to travel inside Balochistan for field work, they would either go to Mastung or Qila Abdullah. This negative trend has to end if the NGOs truly want to help the marginalized people. They should be mentally prepared to go to places like Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Wasuk, Awaran and Chagai where people live centuries-old circumstances.

Baloch political parties should play their role in this regard and make sure that this project does not end up as a means of squandering several million euros. It should reach and benefit the deserving Baloch kids who have been denied education by successive governments under varying pretexts.

 

Technical Cooperation Project Summary

Project Title

Mitigating Child Labor Through Education in Pakistan (MCLEP)

Region/Country

SOUTH ASIA/Pakistan

Project Duration

September 30, 2005 – September 30, 2010

Fiscal Year & Funding Level

FY 2005: USD 4,000,000
FY 2006: USD 250,000
FY 2007: USD 100,000
FY 2009: USD 50,000
Match Funds: USD 8,360

Problem to be Addressed

Many children in the provinces of Pakistan that border Afghanistan and Iran lack access to quality, relevant education opportunities.  Many of these children are exploited in the worst forms of child labor including rag-picking; carpet weaving; collecting hazardous medical waste materials; working in brick kilns and leather tanneries; and smuggling drugs, small arms, and other illicit goods across borders.  Some are in situations of bonded labor.

Targets

The project targets 7,300 children for withdrawal and 8,420 children for prevention from hazardous work.  The sectors from which children are to be withdrawn or prevented include cross-border smuggling of goods, automobile workshops, construction, embroidery, carpet weaving, livestock rearing, agriculture, street vending, domestic work, and work in hotels and small enterprises.  Target geographic areas are Balochistan province (Quetta and Killa Abdullah districts), Northwest Frontier Province (Peshawar district) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Khyber agency).

Project Objectives

Contribute to the reduction in child labor in Pakistan.

Intermediate objectives include:

  • Improve access to and quality of education for working and at-risk children in the target areas;
  • Engage communities, civil society and local governments in promoting education and the eradication of child labor;
  • Strengthen national institutions and policies to effectively address the issues of child labor and education; and
  • Ensure the sustainability of project activities and benefits to the primary stakeholders.

Summary of Activities

  • Improve education quality and methodology in  government-run schools through training and ongoing professional development for teachers and school administrators;
  • Establish non-formal education centers to provide effective quality education to former child laborers;
  • Establish early-childhood education for children at risk of being exploited in child labor;
  • Provide literacy and vocational/technical training to former child laborers, as well as placement in appropriate apprenticeships;
  • Sensitize parents, employers and other community members to the problem of child labor through awareness-raising campaigns, discussions, and meetings;
  • Provide families of working children with marketable skills for improving their livelihood;
  • Organize community groups to monitor the child labor situation in communities as well as children’s educational status;
  • Mobilize civil society organizations and the private sector to advocate for the educational needs of the children in their areas;
  • Strengthen local government counterparts to protect, support, and educate working and at-risk children;
  • Review and monitor policies and laws regarding child labor by government and other key players; and
  • Support government capacity (national, provincial, and district) to continue with commitments to eradicate child labor and improve education in the targeted areas and throughout Pakistan.
  • As of February 28, 2009, 14,285 children have been withdrawn or prevented from exploitive child labor as a result of this project.

Grantee

Save the Children-U.K. in association with Water Environment and Sanitation Society (Quetta, Balochistan); and Community Mobilisation and Development Organization (Peshawar, NWFP).

Contact Information

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (OCFT)

(202) 693-4843

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