Syed Ali Shah: QUETTA: The Pakistan Literary Festival in Quetta brought together a remarkable collection of politicians, literary figures, actors, artists, poets, authors, and journalists from all over Pakistan. Organized by the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi, the event served as a vibrant platform for cultural and intellectual exchange. The Chief Minister of Balochistan, Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, attended the concluding session as the chief guest. During his address, CM Bugti highlighted the region’s issues, stating, “Education, health, development—all are lacking, not due to any external forces but because we are responsible for this. We must put our own house in order.”

“Higher Education in Balochistan: Where We Stand”, Durrani

The festival featured numerous sessions addressing significant social, cultural, and educational topics. A notable session on the second day focused on “Higher Education in Balochistan: Where We Stand.” Participants included prominent figures such as Balochistan Education Minister Rahila Durrani, Dr. Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, Mukhtar Ahmed, Dr. Khalid Hafeez (Vice Chancellor of Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences), Zahoor Ahmed Bazai, Ghazi Salahuddin, Dr. Ziaul Hasan, and Sadiqa Salahuddin. The discussion was moderated by Syed Jafar Ahmad.

Minister Rahila Durrani highlighted the considerable challenges in Balochistan’s education sector. She noted the discrepancy between the number of schools built and their upkeep, pointing out that although student enrollment has surpassed 1.1 million, nearly 3 million children remain out of school. She lamented the lack of a coherent strategy and expressed regret over the poor quality of education despite substantial budget allocations in previous years.

Educational Focus And National Development Discussed

Dr. Khalid Hafeez emphasized the link between educational focus and national development, noting that hiring unqualified individuals in educational institutions has deteriorated education quality. Dr. Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui called for an overhaul of the education system to meet modern demands, stressing the importance of prioritizing information and knowledge over financial gains.

Dr. Ziaul Hasan highlighted the need for the Higher Education Commission to improve the education system, pointing out the current emphasis on obtaining degrees rather than conducting research. Ghazi Salahuddin expressed his enthusiasm for visiting global campuses and lamented the heavy educational burdens on students, advocating for campuses to be centers of innovative ideas and diverse perspectives.

Sadiqa Salahuddin pointed out that educational challenges are not unique to Balochistan but are present in all provinces. She emphasized the reliance on donors for educational improvements and called for a national commitment to reforming the education system to ensure a brighter future for the country.

The Quetta Literary Festival effectively brought critical issues to the forefront while fostering a collaborative environment for discussing solutions. The diverse participation and insightful dialogues underscored the festival’s role as an essential cultural and educational hub.

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Quetta Voice is an English Daily covering all unfolding political, economic and social issues relating to Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province in terms of area. QV's main focus is on stories related to education, promotion of quality education and publishing reports about out of school children in the province. QV has also a vigilant eye on health, climate change and other key sectors.