It was rather a delayed call for me when I was admitted in a private school after having attained my basic education in nearby Government school. All I considered was the proximity that I could easily saunter through the warehouse of food department that passaged a half-wrecked wall which could easily be climbed without brushing any part of clothes. Taking bigger leaps, I would see the Panjgur rest house newly constructed on an elevated altitude. Turning right to the Bait-ul-Maal office, a four-wheeler jeep that was crashed long ago was stationed not to be removed for ages. A regular sight was non-school-going children laden on the abandoned vehicle mouthing engine and horns as they played. Passing Tehsil and by the Telephone Exchange, the new school was hardly few yards away from Shaheed Javed Chowk.
Earlier, it was a disappointing beginning in the sarkari school. The edifice of my ideal school was razed in my initial schooling days. Government schools are always about writing. Writing Takhti, the wooden slate; the lessons, arithmetic tables and what not. We had kind bunch of teachers. Most of them suffered in their subjects but good enough to pass on the burden to students. What I still miss about the place is the respect it inculcated for teachers, no matter how wrong they are: the elderly deserved a kiss on the hands on our way off school.
By early 90’s, Makran Division had no English medium schools. In Turbat, the biggest city of the division, English Schools were initially established only to last for a year or so. There was no fundamental planning on which private sector English medium schools may function in the region. It was to the credit of late Mr. Habibullah Bangalzai, Panjgur saw its very first English Medium School in 1993. I was its second batch. Initially, it was a modern version of already prevailing government schools in the locale but with time the standards were slightly raised and teachers from Punjab were assigned to teach subjects in English. With no time, local youth educated in Quetta and Karachi took the teaching assignments and our school showed good promise. Shifting buildings every two years, Pak Public Model School was first of comparable private schools that thronged in the next decade.
Evidently, private schools in Panjgur provided phenomenal match to the Urban schools in Quetta, the provincial capital, for quite a while. Unprecedentedly, co-ed was highly appreciated by most quarters of the society. The social instinct started to shift toward competition in educating trends. Even the religious notables sent their minors to private schools. Mr. Zahir Hussein, a US-return fostered his idea of setting up American English Language Centre which proved to be a success story. It not only gathered youth for healthy atmosphere in evenings but also shoved them toward another mode of competitive knack. Female students found the opportunity to polish their communication and comprehension of English without travelling to Quetta for similar purposes. Later, he launched his own English-to-English-and-Balochi medium school followed by another school after a brief period by one of our considerate principals Haji Lateef. Resultantly, few years down the line, the fruition of these efforts came to fore. Candidates from Panjgur were considered intellectually superior to the other districts in the division. They clinched the seats in provincial public service commission as walk in the park. While I travelled to Quetta, I found the elementary private education bar in Panjgur glaringly better than most of the noted schools in Quetta. A number of men contributed a great deal in the district what has been the transitional transformation in cultivating quality education in following years.
The recent attacks on educationists and closure of private schools in Balochistan are matter of grave stress. In Makran Division, all private schools face existential threats from right and left. Schools are torched and teachers are threatened to avoid attending classes with parents hesitant to send their children to schools. Even the much anticipated Dr. Malik regime is completely clueless to deal with the conundrum. Where the children in modern times are acquainted with specialized tools and pedagogical excellence, the schools in Makran Division lay deserted. No any clear policy line is yet designed other than allaying fears of parents by statements by incumbent administration and political wish-men. The war waged to dismantle uncompromising efforts of people who cemented the foundation of education in Makran is painfully to continue with its dreadful impacts in the future.
Having witnessed the pleasant lift in private elementary education being the earliest batches during the transition days, I fear the dilapidated jeep along the way to my school still remains a telltale monument of good old times.