Two remote towns in District Pishin, Balochistan, have achieved the highest literacy rate in Pakistan.
Balozai and Khanozai, the twin towns bordering Afghanistan, have a combined population of just over 20,500 people. There are 48 primary and secondary schools, 2 colleges, and a polytechnic institute in both towns.
More than a century ago, Allama Abdul Ali Akhunzda, known as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan of the Panezai tribe, had established the first school in the region in 1905 for both girls and boys to pursue education. As a direct result of Akhunzada’s efforts, these distant towns have attained the highest literacy rate in all of Pakistan.
According to District Education Officer (DEO) Pishin, Habib Alam Panezai, the literacy rate in Balozai and Khanozai stands currently at 98%, more than both the national and provincial average. The literacy rate for Balochistan is just 44% while the literacy rate for Pakistan is currently 70%.
Educationists have always attributed this success to Allama Abdul Ali Akhunzda for fostering a culture to send children to schools.
Following in the footsteps of Akhunzda, elders and religious leaders had established the Balozai Social Organization (BSO) in the 1930s. Since its inception, BSO has always encouraged parents to send their children to schools as well.
The towns not only have the highest literacy rate, but Balozai and Khanozai also have the lowest drop-out rate in Pakistan, which stands at 2%.
While the news coming from Pishin is encouraging, the overall outlook for Pakistan’s education system appears grim as UNICEF declared that Pakistan has the 2nd highest percentage of out-of-school children in the world. In January 2020, UNICEF had estimated that Pakistan has 44% of children aged between 5 and 16 out-of-school.