In 2017 the literacy rate of Pakistan was recorded around 59 percent. On the other hand in spite of its deprivation the literacy rate of Gilgit-Baltistan peaked around 80 percent. As it is said that a good literacy rate of a nation forms strong base of a prosperous socioeconomic future. So one thinks that why the economic conditions of Gilgit Baltistan are not as good as our literacy rate. There are many questions to be answered. Who should be held accountable for these conditions? We will try to find few reasons behind these failures.
Even after having a comparatively higher literacy rate if we are failed to improve our socioeconomic conditions one may question about the quality of education being provided. Corruption, lack of transparency and fairness in education system have ruined the quality of education in Gilgit-Baltistan. In the last decade the corruption in education department was at its peak in the region. Especially in Baltistan division. Incompetent and unqualified recruitments of teachers was at full pace. Even such cases were noted where illiterate people were recruited as teachers on the basis of corruption, who themselves have never been to school as students. They should be held accountable for what they have done with the holy education department.
Now the world has become a global village. Even in this twenty first century where internet has become the basic necessity of life, around 80 percent students of Gilgit-Baltistan are deprived of this basic necessity. The other 20 percent are also having complains about the slow Internet. In these circumstances it is fair to blame government for its lack of interest in digitally empowering the youth. Freelancing is considered as a ray of hope for the unemployed educated youth. But the lack of connectivity hinders the youth of Gilgit-Baltistan to take freelancing as an opportunity. Now it is time to connect Gilgit-Baltistan digitally with the world, giving youth a golden opportunity to uplift the economic condition of the region. Right now SCO military-run telecommunication organization is the solo Internet provider in the region. People often complain about the poor service of SCO. Government should allow other telecom companies to facilitate people with 4G Internet to end the monopoly of SCO. Without digitally empowering educated youth is like sending a soldier in Warfield without weapons.
Lack of higher education institutions in Gilgit-Baltistan is also a reason for the people not being able to uplift the economic conditions. There are only two universities in Gilgit-Baltistan (Karakorum International University and University of Baltistan) with both having few departments. Surprisingly the region has no Engineering university and no medical College. Successive governments have announced to establish, but have done nothing practically to do so. Mainland Pakistanis usually romanticize that the people living on fascinating mountainous region are blessed with good fortune. But when one examines, it takes no time to realize that the people living on mountains are still facing immense hardships. Students have to travel thousands of kilometers toward cities to pursue their higher education by spending a lot of money that most of the people here are unable to afford. A significant number of student’s dropout from education after intermediate as they can’t afford to travel towards cities. Ironically with all these issues the government recently reduced the reserved seats of Gilgit-Baltistan in medical colleges. It is a best opportunity for the government to mitigate the sense of deprivation by drafting an inclusive policy for the development of the region.
Writer:Jabir Hassan Twitter: @Jabir_hasn Writer, Mechanical Engineer, Athlete & GBain