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Conflict and the state of education in Balochistan

Balochistan is the southwestern province of Pakistan. Despite being the largest and most resource-rich, Balochistan remains the most underdeveloped province of the country. The state of education in the province is rather miserable. Almost 45% of the settlements do not have a school facility. Where there are schools, many lack basic facilities such as clean drinking water, boundary wall, shelter, or toilet facilities. Teachers are often unavailable.

In addition to the lack of resources, development, and mass poverty, one of the major reasons for this disparity in education in the province as compared to the rest of Pakistan is the ongoing conflict in Balochistan. As a result of the conflict, political instability ensues and there is little consideration, time, and resources spent on education and the policy framework.

The militant groups and extremist organizations operating in the province oppose western education and are especially against female education so much so that it has often resulted in violence. One such example was an attack on a van in which female students and teachers were traveling. The incident took place on 14th May 2014, in which unidentified gunmen set the van on fire.

However, the threat to education is not limited to the rebel Baluchi forces alone; state and military action also hinder education. As a result of the conflict, suspicious of the Balouch people, around 8000 citizens- many of whom are said to be students- were either kidnapped by Pakistani security or mysteriously went missing.

The impact of conflict on the education of the people of Balochistan is evident. To improve the state of education in the province, conflict resolution should be a priority on the country's policy agenda.

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