The Punjab government has launched the Punjab Accelerated Literacy Promotion (PALP) programme costing Rs2.332 billion that aims to educate and provide technical skills to 487,640 people in four years, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The programme is aimed at people traditionally denied access to education, such as eunuchs, prisoners and child labourers, and at remote areas where schools are rare, said an official familiar with the project, which started in July and will continue till June 2016.
As part of the programme, the Literacy and Non Formal Basic Education Department will open 4,236 new ‘Non Formal Basic Education Schools’ (NFBES) in 32 districts, as well as take over and adapt 1,204 already open schools, to enrol 190,000 children for formal education from class one to five.
Each school would have at least 25 students and one teacher. A minimum of 170 students from each district would be admitted to the schools. Each teacher would have an FA certificate and get Rs5,000 per month. To gain promotion to the next year, the students would have to sit examinations conducted by the Punjab Examination Commission. The government would spend Rs1.29 billion on this initiative.
The department will open 920 community learning centres in 23 districts for non-formal education. As many as 276,000 men and women would get technical training at a cost of Rs500.6 million.
The government plans to open 31 vocational training institutions, with help from the Punjab Vocational Training Council, in eight districts to train 5,580 adults.
This component of the programme would cost Rs100.4 million.
The department will also educate 13,500 illiterate prisoners in five jails of the province. The prisoners would be taught by teachers hired by the department. It has also been allocated Rs10.8 million to open 12 institutions each in Lahore and Faisalabad to educate children who work at brick kilns.
The sixth component of the programme is a project that aims to educate and train 360 eunuchs each in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
The PALP is a replacement for the Punjab Literacy Programme, which was started in 2005 ended in July 2012. The department has calculated that the programme would cost Rs100 per month per learner, which was far cheaper than the Rs1,200 per learner per month spent by the Education Department on formal education, the official said.
“It is also the first time that a department will work on education for eunuchs. It will be a pilot project in the two districts,” said the official.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2012.