Wed. May 25th, 2022

Why do GB students prefer moving to metropolitans?

Zafar Ali

Gilgit-Baltistan is one of the most marginalized and far-flung areas in the north of Pakistan. With a population of around 1.7million, GB relies heavily on farming, livestock and services for subsistence.

Access to higher, quality, educaiton remains a major challenge, as people try to move up the social ladder. People in Gilgit-Baltistan, fortunatley, are aware of the importance of education. For majority of the youth, life without education is aimless and the society is incomplete. Education, in addition to a source of enlightenment, also is a tool for social, cultural and economic progress.

In the light of the above widely held beliefs, it is imperative to review the educational system in the region. Let me, therefore, take a glance at the educational system of Gilgit Baltistan (GB).

Being marginalized and remote, GB is faced with several challenges in the realm of education. Public, private and community-based educational systems and institutions are present across the region, but there’s much left to be desired in terms of quality and ease of access. Spread over a very difficult, sparesly populted, terrain, students are left with little or no option. They could either immigrate from their villages and towns to the relatively big cities within GB, where the cost of living is high but opportunities and facilities are scarce, or they can move ‘down country’, to mainland Pakistan, with relatively better facilities.

There are only two Universities in the region. Both universities are relatively new and under-resources, struggling to improve quality. Even these two universities do not have all the departments or faculties to address the needs and desires of the students. There’s not a single medical or engineering college in the entire region. This lakc of options is another major reason for outward movement of students.

In addition to this, the standard of education is also lacking in the region. Most government institutions use old versions of the syllabus unable to help students to meet the criteria at national and international levels. Some private or non-governmental organizations are attempting to focus on quality, but they do not have the capacity to offer affordable services to all students.

Another prominent issue is lack of access to stable, affordable, internet in the region. This need wsa specially felt during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as education went online. Very slow internet is available here and there, unable to address the needs of higher learning. This affects students’ ability to learn, which ultimatley manifests in poor performance. Thus, the students of GB, in general, cannot perform at par with students in urban and semi-urban centers.

Energy crisis is also a leading issue in GB. Students, like locals, are often faced with several hours of loadshedding at homes and hostels, unable to focus on studies. Students, specially those living in hostels within GB, are unable to keep their rooms warm during harsh winters, when temperature drops sometimes drops below 16 degree Celcius.

In a nutshell, many students find it more convient and rewarding to move out of the region in pursuit of better and affordable education. Needless to say, being away from parents and region has its own costs, which affect the students in many different ways.

If the issues highlighted above are addressed, students from GB will be able to afford and access quality education in their own region, in a conducive environment. This will also have a major impact on the economy of the region.

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