By Danish Balani

Ghulam Murtaza volunteered to utilize the vacant school building and began to give lessons to interested children in a small village of Tharparkar. He has been doing this since 2003 when the village, Haji Khan Lund got its first school.

After a year, the district government appointed just one teacher to teach all five classes who also left in 2011, leaving Ghulam Murtaza alone in his mission to educate the village children.

Murtaza finds it very difficult to manage 116 students enrolled in five different classes on his own.

Seeing his dedication to the school, Mr. Murtaza was hired and paid by National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) to regularly teach at the same school. The NCHD is facilitating Sindh government in providing educational services to the public in underdeveloped areas.

Now for past seven years, the only primary school in a village in district Tharparkar has only one teacher for over hundred children. Haji Khan Lund is a remote village in tehsil Diplo of district Tharparkar, about 60 kilometers away from the district headquarters Mithi.

The village consists of 50 households with a population of about 400 inhabitants living in impoverished conditions. The government-run primary school offers free education but there is only one teacher who juggles between five classes.

Residents of the village have submitted a number of applications at the offices of district and tehsil education department requesting them to appoint teachers. They are still awaiting a response from public representatives.

Ironically, the Sindh government had announced educational emergency in September 2016 to bring back out-of-school children and improve literacy rate of the province. They have probably succeeded in inducting children of Haji Khan Lund village into the school, but they have failed in providing them with enough teachers.

Interestingly, the staff from the district and tehsil education departments visit the school occasionally to ensure employees’ presence following the installation of a biometric system to prevent ghost employees and chronic absenteeism.

Every time they turn a blind eye to the plight of 116 children and turn a deaf ear to the villagers who continue to implore them to provide a bright future to their children.

The residents while talking to Pak Voices expressed serious concerns about their children’s future. They are desperate for the government’s support for providing quality education and furnishing the school with basic amenities.

District Education Officer, Naseer Ahmed Jogi told Pak Voices that unavailability of qualified teachers is the reason for not recruiting any teachers for the school. He said that the department will try to appoint teachers in January after winter vacations end.

In the meanwhile, Murtaza continues to be a beacon of hope for the children of the small village of Thar.

Danish Balani is working with Pak Voices as a citizen journalist from Tharparkar district of Sindh.