According to Frederick Douglass, “Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.” Unfortunately, the schools which provide this light and liberty are poorly managed in the Sindh province; as a result, knowledge, which is called third eye of human beings, is not properly transferred to pupils of the province. According to the reports recently released by the World Bank, Reform Support Unit ( RSU), a subsidiary of the Sindh Education Department, the Sindh Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and Alif Ailaan suggest that the picture of Public sector schools both in terms of academic standard and infrastructural development is darker than imagined. In the last ten years, despite of Sindh government having spent a development budget of 73 billion rupees on public sector schools, they still lack the basic facilities like, electricity, laboratories, boundary walls, and clean drinking water. The World Bank report regarding the percentage of schools with basic facilities shows that Punjab tops the list with 93 percent, KP 44 percent, Balochistan 26 percent, and Sindh with 23percent is lagging far behind. The Reform Support Unit’s (RSU) own report also endorses the gloomy picture painted by the World Bank. According to figures given by the RSU, the total number of schools in the Sindh province is 42383. Out of this total, 16,359 schools lack boundary walls, while 15,478 schools don’t have washrooms. Whereas, 18,128 schools are deprived of clean drinking water and 23,235 schools do not have electricity. Reportedly, there are 2,010 secondary and higher secondary schools and almost all of them do not have science, and computer laboratories. Moreover, over five thousands schools buildings are said to be in crumbling conditions. In this modern age, schools lacking basic facilities are like prisons where children who are said to be the builders of the nation have been caged. Infrastructural development is linked to motivating the children to schooling. The lack of facilities is one the reasons behind enrollment decline in the province. The overall academic standard of education is deplorable. According to the seventh Sindh Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016 launched in Karachi in September 2017, 22 percent children are out of schools in the province. Article 25(A) of the constitution guarantees free education for the children aged 5 to 16. This is a clear violation of constitutional commitment as well as negligence of the promise made both for SDG 4 (12 years of schooling) and Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in 2013. ASER’s report reveals staggering student competencies in learning English, Arithmetic, and Language have dipped compared to 2015. 63 percent of the children from Class V cannot read Class II level story text in Urdu and Sindhi. In English, only 19 percent of the surveyed Class V students could read sentences, which should ideally be read by students from the second grade. Arithmetic learning levels also have gone down where only 24 percent of class V children could do a two-digit division, something that is expected in second grade curriculum. Primary education is the foundation of schooling and if the base is not firmly established it will negatively impact later educational engagement i.e. middle and secondary etc. According to the report released by Alif Ailaan titled Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017, With Punjab on the top, the Sindh province ranked at number seven in the education scores for the provinces, leaving only Federally Administered Areas (FATA) behind. When Sitting Sindh Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar’s attention was drawn to lagging behind in the provinces index, he offered an unconvincing argument saying Punjab was getting funding from international donor agencies for education development projects in the province. Having received alarming news of ever deteriorating standard of education in the province, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah presided over meeting on education on 1st January 2018. He was informed that the teachers were not properly trained, class rooms or schools lacked basic facilities, and there was a lack of motivation on the part of teachers. He constituted a five- member committee comprising education and law ministers, education secretary and other officers concerned to improve the Sindh School Education standards and curriculum (SSES& C) bill -2015 and submit its recommendations to him within the next seven days. According to the devised plan, on the basis of said committees’ recommendations, education experts from different organisations would be tasked to develop a comprehensive 10-year education reforms programme to overhaul the education system in the province. Despite Reform Support Unit responsible for overall academic engagement and enhancement planning, the constitution of such a committee speaks volumes about CM Shah being directionless in reforming the ailing Sindh education system. Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah in September 2016, declared an emergency in the department of Sindh Education. After having declared an emergency, a quick response was required to streamline action to bring academic engagement back on track. It seems that the CM took the action without finding out the factors that have undermined infrastructural development and educational progress which are adhocism, corruption, and political interference. Too many cooks spoil the broth; establishing an institution to run another department /institution and recruiting monitoring bodies, and constitution of committee after committee for the purpose of overseeing or suggesting improving mechanism is adhocism which has not yielded desired results nor will it be fruitful in foreseeable future because such an exercise is based on idealism/day-dreaming, nepotism, and cronyism. The new body or an institution is established by those at the helm of the Province’s affairs just to accommodate the favourites and relatives by offering lucrative posts. The Reform Support Unit (RSU) was established in 2006, aiming to streamline existing edifice of education delivery and provide policy inputs for advancement of education growth in terms of governance, access and quality education. It has failed miserably to steer the sinking boat of Education of Sindh to safer shores as in overall academic standard index, Sindh is far left behind, stands at digit seven. When a task as simple as the delivery of the course for the school year cannot be done diligently, then the efficiency in other academic and administrative areas remains questionable One can imagine the magnitude of mismanagement from the fact that this year the education department failed to distribute the course provided by the Sindh government to Students from sixth class to matriculation on the time, as a result, academic activity had not picked up pace before summer vacations started. Thus, forty-five days of the new academic calendar which begins on 1st April every year, were wasted thanks to non-availability of the course -books. When a task as simple as the delivery of the course for the school year cannot be done diligently, then the efficiency in other academic and administrative areas remains questioned. Faced with irregularity and unpunctuality of teaching staff; Biometrics verification with the induction of monitoring assistants, was introduced in schools to verify the attendance of School staff with thumb impressions. This system has to some extent made teaching staff regular, but the academic activity is still at the bottom level. Roping in teachers without getting them to work is of no importance. Vigilance does not mean physical presence of the staff but achievement of academic engagement. Negligence and lack of checks and balances, has made the faculty unwilling in teaching activity. The RSU’s failure in its mandatory job of giving direction as well as ensuring educational progress is evident. The faltering commitment on the part of teachers accompanied by ineffective teaching methods has resulted in the total collapse of our education. In the recently conducted examinations from matriculation to intermediate, we saw large scale cheating in the examination centres. Examination system also is fraught with faults because it tests memory power rather than intelligence and intellectual approach of the students. Besides, there is a seasonal sale of grades; those with deep pocket are the beneficiaries of this corrupt system. And those caught red-handed in examination centres get clean-chits by greasing the palms of the corrupt officials operating in examination boards. At the end of the day, these beneficiaries of corrupt practices outdo those who burn the midnight oil throughout the academic year. It is this network of disadvantages that has undermined competition as well as the standard of education. Denying quality education to the new generation deprives them from the prospects of progress and prosperity. The ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan rightly remarked that ‘Education is premise of progress in every society, and in every family ‘. Corruption is rampant in the province, and the Sindh Education department is no exception. Former Sindh Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro is on record making a confessional statement in response of a question by the opposition Lawmaker Nusrut Abbasi on the floor of the House that “a large number of fake appointments were made in the education department during the previous tenure of the PPP government from 2012 to 2013 when Pir Mazharulhaq was in the saddle of education ministry. Like A mega sale of fabric in the market, a good number of the PSTs and JSTs were on sales. Those with deep pockets got themselves recruited by greasing the palms of corrupt officials. Thus, this induction of incompetent lot accompanied by ill-trained and unmotivated teachers has brought academic bankruptcy. Above all, the increasing political involvement in the recruitment of teachers, their postings and transfers and postings of the District Education officers (DEO) through bribery or political connection have paralysed the system. In order to resuscitate it, a number of measures can be taken: Firstly, empowerment of the Education Department must be ensured and infrastructural development should be prioritized. The bureaucracy from lower to Secretary-level should be replaced with a new crop who are free from graft and greed and political influence. Moreover, TEOs and DEOs are selected on merit and integrity. A policy of reward and punishment should be put in place for the teachers; recognition for the dedicated school staff and accountability of those found poor performers. Furthermore, present out-dated teaching modus operandi must be replaced with modern tools of teaching; Teacher training should become mandatory before joining the academic activity and refresher course covering present day demands be implemented at the end of academic year. Also, Teacher unions should be purged off feudal/political influence because they undermine disciplinary action when required on purely petty political affiliations. No solution will be sustainable if adhoc approach, graft and political intervention persist. The writer is an Educationist and a freelance contributor; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, May 28th 2018.