ISLAMABAD: Speakers have noted that Pakistan is reeling under the burden of 40 per cent of its adult population being illiterate, which is of serious concern for the country.
They were speaking at a meeting held under the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) on Wednesday on the development of a National Plan of Action (NPA) towards achieving 90 per cent literacy as envisioned under Vision 2025.
Representatives of the federating units including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency attended the meeting.
“NCHD and representatives of all provinces will have to jointly accept the challenge of enhancing literacy rates up to 90 per cent by improving enrollment in schools, stopping dropouts, and promoting adult literacy, besides initiating skill development programmes in the country,” said NCHD Chairperson Razina Alam Khan.
“In such an alarming situation, it is extremely important to address the illiteracy problem on a priority basis, she said, adding that Vision 2025 provides a guideline and a roadmap for addressing illiteracy in the country.
The meeting noted with concern that although the net enrolment rate (NER) in Pakistan was 72 per cent, the dropout rate of 33 per cent affected the literacy rate drastically.
It was also noted that the raw figure for illiterate Pakistanis is around 57 million.
NCHD Director General Abid Hussain said that despite devolution of education to provinces, the federal government and civil society could not be absolved of their responsibilities.
The NCHD chairperson vowed to achieve 90 per cent literacy and 100 per cent enrolment under Vision 2025 through a revived strategy.
NCHD will establish 12,000 new literacy centres in less developed and remote areas of the country.
Alam said that the PC-1 of the National Training Institute has been approved recently, which envisage enhancing skill development as a first priority of adult education.
She said that a training institute for literacy and non-formal education would also be established in Islamabad to develop research and to provide trainings to all stakeholders working in the field of literacy non-formal basic education (NFBE).
Alam said the literacy centres would also be set up in seminaries, while special courses have also been arranged for taxi drivers, gardeners and labourers.
She said that post-literacy programme was also being prepared to engage the new literates enabling them to continue reading after completion of courses.
The UNESCO delegates asked the representatives of education sector to come up with innovative ideas to reach out to the illiterates. The JICA representative suggested involving the community to understand the problem.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2016.