The Literacy and Non Formal Basic Education Department has received a budgetary allocation of Rs1.1 million this year and will initiate two new projects aimed at educating and providing functional skills to almost a million people and create 1,000 non-formal basic education schools (NFBES), The Express Tribune has learnt.
Last year, the department opened adult literacy centres in five central jails across the province; as many as 30 vocational training schools for 15 to 25-year olds in south Punjab; several NFBES for children and community learning centres for women were opened.
“The importance of non-formal education as an alternative learning mechanism has increased over the past few years,” says LNFBE Secretary Pervez Ahmad Khan. This realisation, he says, can be gauged through the government’s recent allocation for the non-formal education sector.
Dr Khan told The Express Tribune Rs341 million had been released for development projects last year. “We hope to deliver greater outcomes with larger budgetary allocation this year,” he said. The literacy rate in the Punjab stands at 60 per cent; the government has a long way to go before it achieves 100 per cent literacy by 2019-2020, to meet international commitments and its own goals, he said. The LNFBE Department has set up two new projects this year for this purpose.
With a target to establish 1,000 non-formal basic education schools in 11 districts across the Punjab, the project titled Punjab Work Place Literacy Programme (PWPLP) will target areas with low literacy rates. This would target as many as 30,000 students and will focus on children at brick kilns. The project also aims at establishing 500 community learning and adult literacy centres for 10,000 people. The PWPLP has been allocated Rs100 million. Dr Khan said that the project would be approved in the first week of August.
Another project expected to be approved in August is the Punjab Literacy Movement Project. This project has been granted a budget of Rs250 million. The project aims at providing literacy and functional skills to almost a million individuals in 32 districts by the end of this year.
The project entails setting up community learning centres, adult literacy centres and non-formal basic education schools along with a volunteer programme. It would allow flexible timings for individuals to learn a variety of functional skills. “There has to be an incentive for individuals to be enrolled in such programmes, particularly in adult literacy programmes,” he says. The skills, he says, will offer people opportunities to earn while studying in non-formal education programmes.
Last year in September, the department had announced that it had managed to impart education to over 680,000 individuals through non-formal and alternate methods in the Punjab. Out of those, almost 200,000 were school-going children. This year, the department aims to offer middle school education through non-formal basic education schools for girls in collaboration with the School Education Department (SED) and the Allama Iqbal Open University in several districts including Mianwali and Bhakkar.
Through these interventions, the LNFBE Department has set a target to bring almost 300,000 to 350,000 children in the school enrolment net by the end of 2013. “The LNFBE Department supplements the efforts of the SED,” he said, “While brick and mortar is necessary, it may take so much time that a child’s natural learning age is lost…this is where we step in.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.