Monday, November 23, 2009

Low Literacy Rates Threaten Pakistan's Future

The parts that now constitute Pakistan were among the least developed regions of India prior to 1947, and the last to be conquered by the British,according to an eminent Pakistani economist Dr. Kaiser Bengali. The British rule in Sind, Baluchistan and NWFP lasted about 100 years and these regions were considered the periphery of the British Raj in India. At the time of independence in 1947, the overall literacy rate in India was 12.2%, and the parts that became Pakistan probably had an even lower rate of literacy in single digits.



Pakistan has come a long way in terms of industrial and infrastructure development since 1947, and it is now more than competitive vis-a-vis India. Of the six basic indicators of food, clothing, housing, sanitation, healthcare, and basic literacy, Pakistan is ahead on the first five, lagging marginally behind India in basic literacy.

Although literacy in Pakistan has grown by about 13% during President Mushsarraf's rule to about 56%, it remains woefully low when compared to other South Asian nations. Ranked at 141 on a list of 177 countries, Pakistan's human development ranking remains very low. Particularly alarming is the low primary school enrollment for girls which stands at about 30% in rural areas, where the majority of Pakistanis live. In fact, the South Asia average of primary school enrollment is pulled down by Pakistan, the only country in all of Asia and the Pacific with the lowest primary enrollment rate of 68 per cent in 2005. This is 12 percentage points lower than that of Maldives, which, at 80 per cent, has the second lowest rate in Asia and the Pacific. Low primary enrollment rate and poor health of children in Pakistan raise serious concerns about the future of the nation in terms of the continuing impact of low human development on its economic, social and political well-being.

This lack of focus on access to and quality of children's education has resulted in the proliferation of madrassahs, a small minority of which being highly radicalized, that fill the vacuum by offering a one-stop shop for poor children needing food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and basic education. Parents simply drop their children off at these madrassas, and essentially let these institutions raise them, and brainwash them in some cases. The total enrollment of all madrasas is about 1.5 million students out of over 33 million students attending all of the public and private educational institutions in Pakistan, according to 2005 national education census. Girls account for 53% of all college students in Pakistan, reports the the same Census.

As Pakistan now fights an existential battle against extremely violent radicals, many from the radical madrassas, the nation is now paying a heavy price for years of neglect.

Is increased literacy enough to get Pakistan out of the current morass? The answer is a resounding NO. Clearly, literacy and education are not synonymous. Literacy is necessary but not sufficient for education. In the primitive and medieval periods, there were extremely low literacy rates but people still managed to survive in agrarian societies with subsistence economies. Whatever little knowledge most people needed was passed on to them by their parents whom they watched and copied, without a lot of thinking.

In the modern industrial society, however, literacy is as basic a requirement as food. Individuals who can not read and follow basic written instructions can not contribute much to society, They are not fit for even low level unskilled jobs in an industrial economy.

Beyond basic literacy, the kind of rote learning that goes on in many Pakistani schools, particularly in some madrassas, is neither sufficient nor relevant to society. Useful education has to be relevant in terms of content, and it must encourage critical thinking and develop reasoning skills to help people make necessary decisions in life for themselves, and contribute to the greater good of the rest of the society. The method of memorization-based learning and the culture of blind obedience (Ita'at) in schools have to change to make Pakistan competitive today and in the future.

Upon the urging of saner elements in Pakistan, and pressure from the alarmed world, a new education policy has recently been announced that will more than double education spending in Pakistan from about 3% of the GDP to 7%. If it is done correctly, instills proper values, and with transparency, then there can be hope for light at end of the tunnel for Pakistan's younger generation.

Poverty:

Population living under $1.25 a day - India: 41.6% Pakistan: 22.6% Source: UNDP

Underweight Children Under Five (in percent) Pakistan 38% India 46% Source: UNICEF

Life expectancy at birth (years), 2007 India: 63.4 Pakistan: 66.2 Source: HDR2009

Education:

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, male Pakistan: 80% India 87% Source: UNICEF

Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, female Pakistan 60% India 77% Source: UNICEF

Economics:

GDP per capita (US$), 2008 Pak:$1000-1022 India $1017-1100

Child Protection:

Child marriage under 15-years ; 1998–2007*, total Pakistan - 32% India - 47% Source: UNICEF

Under-5 mortality rate per 1000 live births (2007), Value Pakistan - 90 India 72 Source: UNICEF

Related Links:

Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised in Pakistan

Food, Clothing and Shelter in India and Pakistan

Human Development Slipping in South Asia

Dr. Bengali's Lecture on Pakistan Economy

Literacy in India

President Musharraf's Legacy

Pakistan Education Census 2005

India You May Not Know

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

pakistan's basic literacy is 56% but what percentage of that is from madrassas and other religiously funded schools?

I read somewhere it was 50% of this 56% is madrassas/religious curriculum schools so basically people who have some form of basic useful 'secular'education in pakistan is under 30% as opposed to ~60-70% in India.

Is this correct?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "pakistan's basic literacy is 56% but what percentage of that is from madrassas and other religiously funded schools? I read somewhere it was 50% of this 56% is madrassas/religious curriculum schools so basicall.."

What you head is wrong. According to the 2005 education census in Pakistan, there are over 33 million students enrolled in all, of which just 1.5m attend madrassas. And many madrassas do offer secular education in math and science along with religious education.

http://www.statpak.gov.pk/depts/fbs/publications/nec2005/summary.pdf

For your information, many Hindus also attend madrassas in India because of poverty. These institutions offer food, clothing and shelter, in addition to education. A famous Hindu leader Raja Ram Mohan Roy was also madrassa graduate before partition.

Shani said...

Ya, Govt. should take some quick steps in this regard. I agree with "Anonymous", What percentage of 56% is from Madarrsas. I don't blame the education of religious schools but I blame the way they educate students.

Anonymous said...

what about the economy? pak has quite low fdi and fii as compared to india, or so i have been led to believe. even the industrial production, compared to india, is not a great deal. another thing is the disparity between rankings of pakistan in military and economy. while india is the 3rd largest military, it is also the 4th largest gdp ppp based economy. pak is 7th largest military and 27th largest economy ppp. (figures from wiki)my q is, is it not difficult for a 27th largest economy to maintain a 7th largest army? doesnt it take its toll on citizens? i have visited both the countries and i find both of them attractive.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "pak has quite low fdi and fii as compared to india, or so i have been led to believe."

It's correct now, because of the current political instability and security situation in Pakistan. Talking about foreign direct investment (FDI) in emerging economies, former US Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan said in his book titled "The Age of Turbulence" : “But clearly the Licence Raj (in India) has discouraged foreign direct investment. India received $7 billion in FDI in 2005, a sum dwarfed by China’s $72 billion. India’s cumulative stock of FDI at 6 per cent of GDP at the end of 2005 compares with 9 per cent for Pakistan, 14 per cent for China, and 61 per cent for Vietnam. The reason FDI has lagged badly in India is perhaps no better illustrated than by India’s unwillingness to fully embrace market forces. That is all too evident in India’s often statist response to economic problems. Faced with rising food inflation in early 2007, the response was not to allow rising prices to prompt an increase in supply, but to ban wheat exports for the rest of the year and suspend futures trading to ‘curb speculation’ — the very market forces that the Indian economy needs to break the stranglehold of bureaucracy.” (p. 322 of "The Age of Turbulence" by Alan Greenspan.)

anon: "even the industrial production, compared to india, is not a great deal"

This is incorrect. Pakistan's industrial sector contributes about 27% of GDP, about the same as India's. Pakistan is more urbanized than India, with a smaller percent of population in Pak engaged in farming.

anon: "pak is 7th largest military and 27th largest economy ppp."

Pakistan's military spending is only a small fraction of India's defense budget, which poses a serious threat to Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

I dont understand one point, why do you guys always compare yourselfs to the Indians. Well I also dont accept the facts that are put here. In terms of urbanisation mumbai is within top 4 in the world. And its my personal opinion that paks gdp cannot be compared to the indians. India looks at 9 percent growth only second to china which has 13 -14%. So its a sick joke to see that you guys consoling yourself thinking that you are better than the Indians. Honestly you guys should look at your flaws and rectify it, and dont forget the aid from US is also included into your gdps and parities. So guys dont be content face the reality and fight you govts ill will to really work for the people. Pakistani people are good only that they dont realise their govts unwillingness to project the truth

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "why do you guys always compare yourselfs to the Indians."

Because Indians always compare themselves to Pakistan. For example, IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal P K Barbora recently said that Pakistan is better than India in terms of defense. And, during Obama-Singh joint press conf yesterday, Indian journalists' questions showed Indians' obsession with Pakistan.

anon: "In terms of urbanisation mumbai is within top 4 in the world."

Of course, Mumbai is urbanized as a big city. But India as a whole is one of the least urbanized nations in the world.

The level of urbanization in Pakistan is now the highest in South Asia, and its urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030, according to a report titled ‘Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus’, released by the United Nations Population Fund. Pakistan ranks 163 and India at 174 on a list of over 200 countries compiled by Nationmaster. The urban population now contributes about three quarters of Pakistan's gross domestic product and almost all of the government revenue. The industrial sector contributes over 27% of the GDP, higher than the 19% contributed by agriculture, with services accounting for the rest of the GDP.

anon: "And its my personal opinion that paks gdp cannot be compared to the indians."

Recent gdp data from various published sources shows Pakistan's per capita gdp is about the same as India's. In fact, IMF estimate puts Pakistan's per capita gdp of $1022 ahead of India's 1017.

yasir said...

I do agree with you.Unfortunately literacy rate in Pakistan is very low.That is the major reason for the low per capita income of the people of this territory.
Below mentioned url will explain more on it.
http://www.vibe.pk/content/Education-and-Poverty

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Washington Post story about education deficits in Pakistan:

"If the people get education, the elite would be threatened," said Khadim Hussain, coordinator of the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy and a professor at Islamabad's Bahria University. "If they make education available, the security establishment's ideology may be at risk."

That ideology, Hussain said, involves the belief that non-Muslim nations are out to destroy Pakistan and that the army is the only protection Pakistanis have from certain annihilation. Those notions are emphasized at every level in the schools, with students focused on memorizing the names of Pakistan's military heroes and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad, but not learning the basics of algebra or biology, he said.

The nature of the education system is reflected in popular attitudes toward the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups that in recent months have carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Pakistan, many of them targeting civilians.

Although the groups in many cases have publicly asserted responsibility for the attacks, a large percentage of the population here refuses to believe that Muslims could be responsible for such horrific crimes, choosing to believe that India, Israel or the United States is behind the violence. When Hussain challenges graduate-level students for proof, they accuse him of being part of the plot, he said.

Top government officials have little incentive to change that, experts here say. Although the vast majority of Pakistanis must choose between the public schools or madrassas for their children, Pakistan's well-to-do can send their kids to private schools, many of which are considered world-class.

Javed Ashraf Qazi, a former Pakistani education minister, said the United States has not helped by frittering away much of its assistance budget on poorly defined programs, such as conflict-resolution training, which he said leave no enduring impact. What Pakistan really needs, he said, is a network of vocational training institutes that can prepare students for the workplace.

"What would help is something that is lasting," he said. "The U.S. is spending more money, but spending it in a way that it does not leave any impact."

But Pervez Hoodbhoy, a noted nuclear physicist at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University and a longtime proponent of education reform, said Pakistan needs something more fundamental.

"I don't think it's a matter of money. The more you throw at the system, the faster it leaks out," he said. "There has to be a desire to improve. The U.S. can't create that desire. When Pakistanis feel they need a different kind of education system, that's when it will improve."

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a NY Times Op Ed by Nicholas Kistoff on Pakistan:

Meanwhile, Pakistan seeks postflood aid from Western taxpayers, yet barely taxes its own affluent citizens at home. And its feudal landholders have historically opposed good schools, for fear that poor Pakistanis — if educated — would object to oppression.

One reason Pakistan is sometimes called the most dangerous country in the world is this: a kindergarten child in this country has only a 1 percent chance of reaching the 12th grade, according to the Pakistan Education Task Force, an official panel. The average Pakistani child is significantly less likely to be schooled than the average child in sub-Saharan Africa.

American myopia historically has played a role. We’ve propped up generals but not the lawyers’ movement for democracy. We’ve allocated billions of dollars for Pakistan’s army but not for schools. And the U.S. has never been willing to take the single most important step: open our markets wide to Pakistani garment exports, so as to provide jobs and strengthen the business sector.

Now let’s break for a ray of hope.

This is my first trip to Pakistan in years in which the country’s downhill slide seems to have been arrested — and that’s notwithstanding the floods that ravaged the country recently.

It helps that the United States has approved the Kerry-Lugar-Berman package to provide civilian aid, earning the U.S. a dose of goodwill in Pakistan. But most important, members of Pakistan’s emerging middle class are stepping up to the plate.

They are enraged at the terrorists who have been tearing apart their country, they’re appalled by corruption and illiteracy, and they want peace so that their children can become educated and live a better life. Their obsession is college, not Kashmir.

Partly because of middle-class influence, ordinary Pakistanis are increasingly focused on education. About one-fourth of Pakistani children, even from poor families, now attend private schools, simply because the public schools are so wretched.

These days the middle class is not only eclipsing the feudal landowners but also rejects the old feudal contempt for the masses. One reflection of the middle-class engagement is the rise of the Citizens Foundation, a terrific aid group started by a group of businessmen frustrated by their country’s appalling schools.

Today, T.C.F. runs 660 excellent schools for the poorest citizens. I visited several of these schools on this trip — and, wow!

T.C.F. spends 40 percent less per pupil than state schools do, but manages to provide incomparably better education. Here in the most-populous province of Punjab, for example, nearly 100 percent of Citizens Foundation pupils pass government exams, while over the last four years state schools have averaged a 44 percent pass rate.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from BBC.com's Soutik Biswas's blog about Azim Premji's $2 billion donation for rural education and development in his native India:

Mr Premji remains an exception in the world of Indian business. India has some 60 billionaires. The wealth of its top 10 billionaires equals 12% of its GDP, compared to just 1% in China, 5% in Brazil and 9% in Russia. The combined net worth of India's 100 wealthiest people is about a quarter of its GDP. But the philanthropic record of India's rich is spotty.

A few like the Tatas - who built and run the city of Jamshedpur and have a decent record in what is called corporate social responsibility - appear to have been more generous than the others. In recent years, India's billionaires have given away money to their alma mater, mostly foreign universities. A mobile phone giant has set up a foundation for underprivileged children; a tyre company has invested in containing HIV/Aids. The chairman of a leading software company has said he would set aside 10% of his wealth for philanthropy. A tea company has adopted several hundred villages. But one suspects that it all does not add up to much, considering the enormous concentration of wealth in the hands of India's rich and the power they wield.

Are Indians then too greedy to be philanthropic? Americans, for example, are known to be generous, giving away some $300bn - or 2% of the nation's GDP - to charity. There are no figures available for India - a much poorer country - but I am sure they will not be anywhere close.

I don't think some people are hardwired for altruism and others aren't - an act of charity is often spurred by an incentive of publicity and media coverage. Readers always responded handsomely whenever a magazine I used to work with launched a donation drive following a devastating flood or an earthquake. "You give not only because you want to help but because it makes you look good, or feel good, or perhaps feel less bad," write economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner in SuperFreakonomics. So, traditionally, India's businessmen have felt that they have contributed enough to society by giving away a lot of money towards building of temples.

Many believe that India's rich are not generous enough and flaunt their wealth vulgarly in a country where the majority are poor. One reason could be that most Indian businesses are run by families and have mercantile origins. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once appealed to businessmen to share their profits with the common man, maximise profits "within levels of decency" and refrain from ostentatious display of wealth because such "vulgarity insults the poor". Gurcharan Das, a writer and management guru who has worked with some of India's top companies, believes that Indian capitalism has begun to flower in the past few decades and wealth is "now being created" in plenty. He believes that the rich will begin to contribute to social causes in a big way soon, and Mr Premji's $2bn charity for education sets an "important" precedent. Time will tell whether Mr Das is being too optimistic.

Riaz Haq said...

The best way to subvert the status quo and spark a revolution is to invest in girl's education, argues Nancy Gibbs in Time magazine:

We know what the birth of a revolution looks like: A student stands before a tank. A fruit seller sets himself on fire. A line of monks link arms in a human chain. Crowds surge, soldiers fire, gusts of rage pull down the monuments of tyrants, and maybe, sometimes, justice rises from the flames.

But sometimes freedom and opportunity slip in through the back door, when a quieter subversion of the status quo unleashes change that is just as revolutionary. This is the tantalizing idea for activists concerned with poverty, with disease, with the rise of violent extremism: if you want to change the world, invest in girls.

In recent years, more development aid than ever before has been directed at women--but that doesn't mean it is reaching the girls who need it. Across much of the developing world, by the time she is 12, a girl is tending house, cooking, cleaning. She eats what's left after the men and boys have eaten; she is less likely to be vaccinated, to see a doctor, to attend school. "If only I can get educated, I will surely be the President," a teenager in rural Malawi tells a researcher, but the odds are against her: Why educate a daughter who will end up working for her in-laws rather than a son who will support you? In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than 1 in 5 girls make it to secondary school. Nearly half are married by the time they are 18; 1 in 7 across the developing world marries before she is 15. Then she gets pregnant. The leading cause of death for girls 15 to 19 worldwide is not accident or violence or disease; it is complications from pregnancy. Girls under 15 are up to five times as likely to die while having children than are women in their 20s, and their babies are more likely to die as well.......
A more surprising army is being enlisted as well. A new initiative called Girl Up girlup.org aims to mobilize 100,000 American girls to raise money and awareness to fight poverty, sexual violence and child marriage. "This generation of 12-to-18-year-olds are all givers," says executive director Elizabeth Gore, the force of nature behind the ingeniously simple Nothing but Nets campaign to fight malaria, about her new United Nations Foundation enterprise. "They gave after Katrina. They gave after the tsunami and Haiti. More than any earlier generation, they feel they know girls around the world."

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan could replace India as the biggest recipient of British bilateral aid, according to the Guardian newspaper:

Britain is to stop sending direct aid to Burundi and Niger, two of the world's poorest countries, the government announced as it unveiled plans to rebalance the £8.4bn international development budget.

The two African nations, which are ranked second and fourth respectively in a World Bank list of the world's poorest states, are among 16 countries that will no longer receive bilateral aid from Britain by 2016. Direct aid will also be halted to Lesotho which is ranked 28th on the World Bank list.

Burundi, a landlocked country in the unstable Great Lakes region of Africa, is still suffering from the consequences of the Hutu-Tutsi massacres in the 1990s when 200,000 of its citizens died. Niger, a landlocked country in west Africa, depends on foreign aid for half of the government's budget.

The cuts were outlined to MPs by Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, as he unveiled the conclusions of two reviews into Britain's bilateral and multilateral aid programmes. Cutting aid to the 16 countries would allow Britain to concentrate its resources on 27 countries which include Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Africa.
---------
Ethiopia will become the biggest recipient of bilateral aid over the next two years. Pakistan could become the biggest recipient of British aid within three years, with a major focus on education, British officials in Islamabad said, but only if the government reduces chronic corruption.

Just 56% of Pakistani children between five and nine years' old attend primary school, a rate that British officials want to boost to the world average of 87%. But the school system is chronically dysfunctional due to political interference, "ghost schools" and unqualified teachers. "It's an education emergency," said one official.

As well as reducing graft, British officials want to see Pakistan increase its tax collection, currrently at a disastrously low rate of nine per cent of GDP with many parliamentarians paying little tax. The Pakistani government has vowed to improve education spending from two per cent GDP to seven per cent.

British officials said they recognised that British aid was a "drop in the bucket" in a country of 180 million people, but hoped that a targeted aid programme could "catalyse change" in critical areas like education.

Direct financial transfers to the Pakistani exchequer, which amounted to £120 million over four years under the last aid programme, are likely to be scrapped, officials said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a sobering assessment of the education crisis in Pakistan, as reported by the BBC:

The Pakistani government says the country is in the midst of an educational emergency with disastrous human and economic consequences.

A report by a government commission found that half of all Pakistani school children cannot read a sentence.

The commission found funding for schools has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2005 to just 1.5% - less than the national airline gets in subsidies.

It describes the education crisis as a self-inflicted disaster.

The report says 25 million children in Pakistan do not get primary education, a right guaranteed in the country's constitution.

Three million children will never in their lives attend a lesson.
'Crumbling infrastructure'

The report says that while rich parents send their children to private schools and later abroad to college or university, a third of all Pakistanis have spent less than two years at school.

"Millions of children are out of school, there is a crumbling infrastructure and education budgets are constantly shrinking but... the situation can be improved in a matter of years if there is a political will for change," the report says.

It says that at the current rate of progress Punjab province will provide all children with their constitutional right to education by 2041 while Balochistan province - the worst affected area - will not reach this goal until 2100.

The report says that only 6% of children in the country get their education in religious schools or madrassas.

The commission found that:

* 30,000 school buildings are so neglected that they are dangerous
* 21,000 schools do not have a school building at all
* Only half of all women in Pakistan can read, in rural areas the figure drops to one third
* There are 26 countries poorer than Pakistan who still manage to send more of their children to school
* Only 65% of schools have drinking water, 62% have latrines, 61% a boundary wall and 39% have electricity

The report said that Pakistan - in contrast to India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - has no chance of reaching the UN's Millennium Development Goals for education by 2015.

The findings also affect population growth - because educated women have smaller families with children who are healthier and more inclined to use their own education to nurture the next generation.

The report concludes that if the government doubled its present spending on education, significant progress could be made in just two years.

Riaz Haq said...

UN World Food Program's initiative to provide free food and cooking oil to school children is persuading poor families to send their daughters to school in Pakistan, according to a news report:

The program has already noted success in a 62% increase in girls' attendance in the last decade.

"This is really a big help. In these times when things are so expensive, receiving [cooking] oil free of charge is a real bonus," Fareeda Bibi mentioned while placing the four-litre fortified oil tin by her tiny stove.

A tin of oil costs Rs 450 [US$5.5], and Fareeda needs at least three a month to cook for her family of eight.

"My husband earns Rs 5,000 [$61] a month as a carpenter, so our budget is tight. Over Rs 1,000 [$12.2] goes towards utility bills; we spend nearly 2,500 [$30.5] on food and then there are new shoes to be bought for the children or medical bills to pay for my parents-in-law. Every little bit that comes in free in such hard times is a bonus."

Fareeda's daughter Shama receives the oil at her school in Dera Ghazi Khan District in Pakistan's Punjab Province every month as part of a UN World Food Programme (WFP) operation run in conjunction with the government.

"The incentive is mainly to increase enrolment and keep the girls in school. The assistance is only given in girls' primary schools in Punjab. However, in NWFP [North West Frontier Province], Balochistan and Sindh, we have included boys as well," said Amjad Jamal, a WFP spokesman.

The programme had increased girls' enrolment by 25% and attendance by 62%
since 1998, said Marcelo Spinahering of WFP Pakistan. "Children are given high energy biscuits for onsite feeding in certain parts of the country. For the most part they receive take-home rations of four litres of fortified edible oil on a monthly basis and 50kg of wheat on a quarterly basis," he added.

Attitudes changing?

Fareeda said the school feeding programme had also played a part in persuading male members of her family to allow Shama to go to school, just like her two brothers.

"When they say there is no need to educate girls because they will never need to earn a living, I point out the oil we receive helps us run the house, and then they fall silent," Fareeda said, adding: "Of course it is very important to us that our daughter is being educated. I am not literate and this handicaps me."

Noor Bibi, the mother of another young schoolgirl said: "Even though we pay no fees at government schools, my husband says we spend too much on uniforms and books." The oil bonus helps 'balance' this, and she hopes to double the gains in a few years time when her two-year-old daughter is enrolled.

Fozia Hina, deputy district officer for Dera Ghazi Khan sub-district, said: "In areas such as ours, which is largely underdeveloped, parents do not like sending girls out of the house, even to school. Traditionally girls do not leave the home of their parents or husbands. Since the [cooking] oil incentive began several years ago more parents are eager to enrol kids. Mothers are keen to enrol even four-year-old girls."...

http://southasia.oneworld.net/todaysheadlines/pakistantake-home-rations-brings-girls-to-schools

Riaz Haq said...

Literacy rate in Pakistan has increased from about 10% in 1947 to about 60% today, but it remains dismally low relative to many other nations.

A closer examination of literacy data by age groups shows that the literacy rates are rising by every generation:

Over 55 years 30% literate
45-55 40%
35-45 50%
25-35 60%
15-25 70% (Male 80%, Female 60%, UNICEF)

Rural and Female illiteracy are the biggest challenges.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times piece on linking BISP to primary schooling of children:

The cash transfer under the scheme would be linked with school-going children of beneficiary families. The scheme will be the latest addition in the various innovative measures of BISP, including demand driven vocational/technical training along with the provision of micro-financing to ensure livelihood independence for millions of beneficiary families.

Analysis of the data collected through a nationwide poverty survey by BISP reveals that primary education of beneficiaries’ children is one of the major issues of the poor class in Pakistan. A careful evaluation of the data revealed that only 17 percent of BISP beneficiaries send all of their children (between the age of 4 to 10 years) to school, 27 percent of them send some of their children to school, whereas 56 percent do not send any of their children to school. In terms of numbers, more than 5 million children of BISP beneficiaries, between the ages of 4 to 10 years, do not attend any school. The future of millions of these children is in our hands; we can make them productive citizens in the world by providing them with decent educational opportunities; otherwise, sans education, they would become nothing but an easy prey for the cruel forces of extremism, intolerance and terrorism, which are unfortunately competing with the forces of reason in our country.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\10\22\story_22-10-2011_pg7_20

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times story on Pakistan's Malala Day celebration marking the launch of Waseela-e-Taleem program for children's education:

ISLAMABAD: United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown on Saturday said Pakistan could achieve more progress during next three years than any other country as the whole nation has consensus for promoting education as basic right of every child.

“This is a breakthrough moment for Pakistan’s five million out-of-school children as result of Malala’s courage,” Brown said addressing a news conference after his two-day visit to Pakistan that also coincided with Malala Day observed worldwide. He believed that the silent majority is speaking and that there is now national consensus that the country can delay no longer in ensuring girls and boys have schools to go and teachers to teach them.”

“Country after country is adopting Malala as their symbol for a girls’ right to school,” Brown commented. Brown who also telephoned Malala’s two friends Kainat and Shazia, both injured in attack, said not only in Asia but Malala Day was being observed from Latin America and Europe to Africa and several cities in the United States. “Today, we can say with certainty that as long as there are girls out of school anywhere in the world, Malala will be their beacon of hope. Visiting Pakistan and everywhere I go, the message I have received is the same: we are all with Malala,” Brown said.

Brown also praised Pakistan’s creation of four new Malala schools, a Malala Centre for women’s studies and a Malala postgraduate institute. He also expressed pleasure over the plan to provide financial support to poor families for sending their children to schools.

Mentioning to his telephonic interaction with Malala’s friends, he said both were courageous young women and wanted to become doctors. During his meetings with ministers of education from every province, he said everyone expressed their commitment to delivering educational opportunities for girls and boys.

Particularly, he said all of them have emphasised that they would work ceaselessly to ensure that three million girls who are denied schooling are no longer discriminated against anywhere in the country,” he said.

Brown also quoted that education minister is committed to expand community schools including 900 in the Swat Valley and FATA that provide route into the schooling for children who have never gone to school.

He also referred to a plan launched by Benazir Income Support Programme to expand a conditional cash transfer to families choosing to send their children to school what he said aims to enrol three million children into school over the next four years.

“So action is already underway this week to move further and faster to meeting the Millennium Development Goal for education,” he commented, adding that one million people have now signed worldwide petitions.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\11\11\story_11-11-2012_pg7_12

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "Although literacy in Pakistan has grown by about 13% during President Mushsarraf's rule to about 56%.."
----

This is impossible to know.

Literacy rates are determined from decadal census data. The rates published in-between are only estimates from projections and narrows surveys. It is the same in all countries.

We had a census in 1998, and Mushy took over just after than. Our next census was in 2011 and the results (for whatever reason) have still not been published.

We will find out the 2011 literacy rate when GOP (finally) allows the data of the census to be published.

PS: Any idea why the publication of the data has been delayed so much? We are now in 2013 and there has been no official dissemination so far. Bangladesh and India had a 2010 census and they both published their data on schedule in 2011.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News blog post on GeoTV's program "Chal Parha" hosted by singer Shehzad Roy:

We’ve seen some scintillating performances by Shehzad Roy ranging from ’Laga rahay’ to ‘Uth Baandh Kamar kya Darta hai’. His proximity with the general public and the extent to which he seeks solutions for the myriad problems being faced by Pakistan, exhibit his patriotism. On the other hand, his non-governmental organization – ‘Zindagi Trust’
has burgeoned up since 2007 to contest the case of ‘education emergency’ in Pakistan.

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A pop-singer, Roy is both a motivation and a lesson for any young adult living in this country. Unlike many, he isn’t chasing projection in the neighbouring media outlets, allured by ‘piles of money’ or the lust for fame. If he continues with his efforts, there are good enough chances for him to introduce a new ‘genre’ in Pakistani music industry- something like ‘social responsibility’.


Similar to other institutional transitions budding in the Pakistani society, ‘music’ also requires a reorientation. The mass media (including ‘music’ as a means of communication) is also ploughing for a ‘fresh crop’ that wants to satisfy the need of ‘social uplift’.


Making the message of ‘positive change’ vocal, isn’t an easy task. However, ‘music’ seems to be the compatible format considering the level of ignorance and illiteracy in the Pakistani society. Any nation heading towards intellectual demise should be purported by arts, literature and music to engender the thirst for ‘knowledge’.



Chal Parha- a new program being aired on GEO TV during prime time slot is a success story for the local media. It is for the first time that the most urgent need of the country has seeped into the electronic media to grab the ‘time’ and ‘space’ of a television channel. The show is unique with regards to purpose and format. Above all, it has the privilege of ‘Shehzad Roy’ serving as a testimonial. As the renowned singer himself says: “In this show, I travel across 80 cities in Pakistan from Attabad Jheel and Gulmit to Gojal and Thar and film in more than 200 government schools. In each episode we highlight an issue from public schools for example, corporal punishment, medium of instruction, population, textbooks, curriculum, teachers etc”
----------
The promotional song (Chal Parha) of the program defines the digression of the society, in general, for not giving due attention to ’education’. In a light yet piercing manner, the lyrics serve as a stringer for the listeners. It is a rhythmic reminder to rescue the country from the darkness of illiteracy through the light of ’education’. Moreover, an allusion towards another dilemma of the society has also been made, that is, the non-acceptance or indifference shown to talented people. Roy selects a young girl hailing from Faisalabad as a co-vocalist for the song in order to encourage her exceptional singing abilities. She complains of the lack of projection given to talented individuals in Pakistan, the reason she hums melodiously: Pair ho par saya na ho, din ho par ujala na ho, aisaa mumkin nahi… (‘how can hope and darkness coexist?’). Shehzad aptly responds to this: Yai anhonee jo baat hai, mairay dais k saath hai (this strange thing is seen in ‘my’ country).


Chal Parha is another call to declare ‘education emergency’ in Pakistan – not just by adding Article 25-A in the Constitution, but to ensure its fair and proper implementation. It aims at revolutionizing the education system of the country for saving the lives of innumerable talented gems and to alter the fate of Pakistan.


http://blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/2013/02/roys-chal-parha-education-emergency/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece on Shehzad Roy's "Chal Parha" GeoTV series to improve education in Pakistan:

Last month, well-known Pakistani pop star, Shehzad Roy made an appearance at Harvard to talk about music, activism and his new documentary series, Chal Parha (Urdu for: Come, Teach), which highlights the extensive issues plaguing Pakistan’s education system.

Having visited over 200 schools across the country, in an interview with DAWN, Roy stated: “In each episode we highlight an issue from public schools, for example, corporal punishment, medium of instruction, population, textbooks, curriculum, teachers.”

He added, “I want to share the lessons that we have learnt; both good and ugly. We want people to know the obstacles standing in the way of improving the structure of education in government schools while also highlighting the remarkable individuals committed to the teaching profession. These people prove the power of individual efforts.”

Broadcast on a local television channel, GEO TV, the show has gained immense popularity, fast making an impact in a country where, according to the non-profit Alif Ailaan, the government spends just 2.4 percent of its national GDP on education and where just over half of children enroll in primary school.

Mariam Chughtai, the founder of Harvard’s Pakistan Student Group told The Diplomat that the singer was invited primarily because the student group “is committed to changing the discourse on Pakistan at Harvard from one of terrorism and challenges, to that of resilience, art and social change.”

“[Roy] embodied for us an activist who is using music to make an impact on the ground, which is why his discussants, Professor Ali Asani and I were able to have a conversation with him in light of how artists have historically played a key role in keeping governments and rulers accountable,” Chughtai said.

“Roy himself spoke of the main learnings he has had in his journey of Chal Parha, including clippings from his show which illustrated these learnings. They represented both strengths and weaknesses of society in being ready for change on education.”

Alongside his music career, which, over the past couple of years, has veered sharply into the direction of socio-political commentary, Roy has managed to rather successfully integrate both his music and humanitarian work
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Roy told Dawn, “We have installed thumb-printing attendance machines in the five provinces to bring transparency to the issue of teacher absenteeism. We are now collecting this data and are happy to report that teacher attendance has increased considerably in these schools. Similarly, in the episode on corporal punishment, we are proposing a law banning physical abuse in schools and we plan to diligently pursue this issue in the media.”
....


http://thediplomat.com/the-pulse/2013/05/16/shehzad-roy-fighting-for-change-in-pakistani-education/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on Literacy Day in Pakistan:

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova has said the primary school survival rate is 70 percent in Pakistan, while a gender gap still exists.

She said the survival rate for girls in primary schools was 68 percent compared to 71 percent for boys.

She made these points in her message on the International Literacy Day.

She said Punjab, primary school survival rate today was better with 76 percent, but not without a gender gap of 8 percent with the girls’ survival rate at 72 percent compared to 80 percent for boys.

She pointed out the better average per student spending in primary level (ages 5 to 9) in Punjab, which was Rs 6,998 compared to the national average.

She said in Balochistan, although almost the same amount of money, Rs 6,985, was being spent, but the primary school survival rate was only 53 percent. The girls’ survival rate was slightly better with 54 percent than that of boys, which was 52 percent, she added.

She said in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the primary school survival rate was 67 percent, which was lower than the national average of 70 percent. She added that the gender gap also existed with girls’ survival rate at 65 percent compared to 68 percent for boys.

She mentioned that per student education expenditure in primary level (ages 5 to 9) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was Rs 8,638.

Islamabad UNESCO Director Dr Kozue Kay Nagata drew on the point made by Irina Bokova and highlighted its relevance in Pakistan’s context.

Referring to a recent national survey carried out by the Education Ministry, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education, Dr Nagata pointed out that in Sindh, the primary school survival rate was 63 percent. She said the girls’ survival rate was 67 percent compared to 60 percent for boys. Per student education expenditure in primary level (ages 5 to 9) in Sindh was Rs 5,019.

“Literacy is much more than an educational priority – it is the ultimate investment in the future and the first step towards all the new forms of literacy required in the 21st century. We wish to see a century where every child is able to read and to use this skill to gain autonomy.”

Like every year, the UNESCO supported the relevant federal and provincial governments and NGOs working for the promotion of literacy, to organise meaningful events in their respective constituencies to mark this year’s International Literacy Day.

A total of 21 events (two seminars in Karachi, three in Lahore, two in Quetta, two in Peshawar, one literacy walk each in Islamabad and Peshawar, one seminar each in Sialkot, Muzaffergarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan and Hafizabad and one seminar each in five districts of Balochistan, Pishin, Ziarat, Nushki and Qilla Saifullah, were being organised by relevant stakeholders with the UNESCO’s support.

These events include advocacy campaigns on LED digital screens (electronic hording boards) in Islamabad, literacy walks, seminars, speeches and art competitions, and seminars of teachers’ associations.

About nine events were being organised in the rural communities to mobilise the communities to send their children to schools.

Dr Nagata underscored: “Illiteracy in Pakistan has fallen over the last two decades, thanks to the government and people of Pakistan for their efforts in working towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Today, 70 percent of Pakistani youth can read and write. In 20 years, illiteracy has been reduced significantly.”

However, she also emphasised the need to do more to improve the literacy rate in the country and said: “The proportion of population in Pakistan lacking basic reading and writing skills is too high. This is a serious obstacle in the development of the society”


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C09%5C10%5Cstory_10-9-2013_pg11_8

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on increased spending and focus on education in Pakistan:

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says international donors have pledged to provide Pakistan with about a billion dollars over the next three years to help it provide education to millions of out-of-school children.

Now a United Nations special envoy on global education, Brown said Saturday in Islamabad that the global community will partner with Pakistan in financing the biggest education expansion in the country's history.

Pakistan recently doubled its education budget, from two to four percent of its gross domestic product.

Brown says the goal is to provide education to more than 55 million people over ten years old who are illiterate in Pakistan.


http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/donors-pledge-billion-pakistan-education-23112596

Riaz Haq said...

Sindh pushes female literacy via cellphones:

..The six-month program, expected to start this year, will be aimed at girls and women ages 15 to 25 in rural areas, the senior program manager for the digital literacy project, Ghulam Nabi Leghari, said.

It will focus initially on women who have never attended school. A female coordinator will visit selected candidates' homes to give weekly classes and regular lessons will be sent to them by cellular phone.

"Initially the program will be sending text messages to the female students. If they and their families agree to send them, then classroom teaching will begin," Leghari told UPI Next.

The classroom phase would involve three hours of work a day, six days a week for two months. In the third month, students would receive cellphones and would be able to send and receive Sindhi-language text messages, using software developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and a local telecommunications company.

"Learners will be selected on the basis of whether they are semiliterate. This criteria may be relaxed in … some special cases. Around 750 cellphone sets will be provided to learners, 30 for teachers, 10 for coordinators and 10 for monitoring purposes," Leghari said.

He said students in the program would be able to send text messages free for four months and that an organization would be hired to translate messages in Urdu -- Pakistan's national language and the language of the original training materials -- into Sindhi, and handle other functions related to the project, including training teachers.

Shaista Sattar, a 25-year-old woman who has never attended school, said the program could have a positive impact on the lives of rural Pakistani girls and women:

"It is very important that girls will be trained to use the cellular phones and how to write and send text messages," Sattar told UPI Next.

"Besides," she said, "women and girls will also be able to receive education through cellphones. They'll be able to take their lessons whenever they have free time."

Provincial Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Nisar Ahmed Khuhro told UPI Next that female literacy is important in any country's development, and in regions where female literacy is low, speedy programs need to be implemented.

The provincial Education Department is planning to start mobile-based literacy programs in three districts -- Jacobabad, Shaheed Benazirabad and Thatta -- where female literacy rates are the lowest. Each district will have 10 centers, where the educational content of the text messages will be prepared and sent to students.

"The main purpose is to open 30 centers for female adult literacy to help female learners improve their acquired basic literacy skills through mobile phones, and apply these skills for their own betterment as well as the betterment of other females of the area, and improve the overall living standard of the village or community," the minister said.

Interactive sessions using computers and the Internet will be used in addition to mobile phones, he added

---
"Currently, the biggest challenge for Sindh is out-of-school children. More than 50 percent of children are out of school. Keeping in view these challenges, Sindh has to come up with out-of-box solutions to improve the literacy rate of the province," the report, issued by the provincial government's education management information program known as SEMIS, states.

Sindh has 47,557 schools, of which 42,328 are functional and 5,229 are closed, including 3,995 temporarily closed and 1,234 permanently closed, SEMIS data shows.

The availability of teachers was described as "worrisome." Nearly 20,000 schools have one teacher only, resulting in schools having to teach multiple grades together, while 9,103 schools have two teachers.




Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2014/03/29/Pakistani-program-would-raise-female-literacy-by-cellphone/51392269920323/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Christian Science Monitor report on teaching of science at a major madrassa in Pakistan's FATA region:

Anwarul Haq, a frail, bespectacled cleric, sits before a class of attentive students in Darul Uloom Haqqania, one of Pakistan’s many madrassas, or Islamic seminaries. His class of 1,400 students is the most senior of 4,000 enrollees at Darul Uloom, an hour's drive from Peshawar.

The students follow a 500-year-old curriculum adopted across South Asia. The oversized book used in Mr. Haq's class, a collection of ahadith, or sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad, is centuries old and written in Arabic. Commentary written in Urdu in present-day India fills the margins.

“This country was built on Islam, the idea of following God's teachings. Here we are learning how to do that,” says Haq.

RECOMMENDED: How much do you know about Pakistan? Take this quiz.

What students learn, and don’t learn, in thousands of such private seminaries is a matter of concern for Pakistan’s government. Under a national security policy unveiled last month, Pakistan aims to bring madrassas under tighter state control, update their curricula to tone down extremist views, and introduce subjects like mathematics and science. The goal is to turn out graduates capable of getting decent jobs who won’t be tempted to join the Taliban or other militant groups.

“Graduates stand in between two worlds,” says Nafisa Shah, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League. When they don't get jobs, she says, “they become vulnerable [to recruitment by militants].”

Pakistan currently has a tenuous ceasefire with homegrown Taliban militants and has released scores of suspected militants and accomplices in confidence-building measures. Still, terrorist attacks have continued by splinter groups the Taliban claim not to control. On Apr. 9, 21 people were killed in a blast at a fruit market in Islamabad.

Advanced degrees

Fears that Pakistan’s madrassas are breeding grounds for extremism are nothing new. After 9/11, the US government funded a $100 million madrassa reform program that met widespread hostility and failed to make much headway.

Clerics have scoffed at the government’s new security policy and point out that they’ve already instituted the kind of reforms the government advocates. Darul Uloom offers advanced specializations in Islamic law that Pakistan’s universities accept as Master's degrees, and runs computer labs for students.

Other madrassas have also upgraded their curriculum so that students, who spend much of their time memorizing the Quran, get a broader secular education. Most pupils are from poor backgrounds: madrassas offer free education, housing, and food.

Moreover, experts say the threat of militancy comes mostly from what students learn in their spare time, especially in hundreds of underground madrassas that are beyond the reach of both the clerics and the state. ...


http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2014/0415/Pakistan-s-Islamic-seminaries-pair-science-with-the-Quran

Riaz Haq said...

A New #Language for #Pakistan’s Deaf. Pakistan Sign Language adds to #Urdu national and 300 regional languages http://nyti.ms/1yzwe4a

A common Indo-Pakistan sign language was in use across the subcontinent long before the 1980s, but many words and concepts in Urdu and other regional languages had no place in it. Pakistan Sign Language grew out of this need, but by the late 1990s the books and guides developed by Absa were deemed outdated and went out of print. So the family education foundation worked with deaf instructors in Punjab and Sindh, and with Rubina Tayyab, the head teacher at the Absa School, to develop a new online lexicon that now contains 5,000 words and phrases. On its website, a new video each day shows men, women, girls and boys signing a phrase with its meaning repeated in English and Urdu. Aaron Awasen, the foundation officer in daily charge of the P.S.L. project, describes this lexicon not as a definitive dictionary, but as “a portal through which Pakistan Sign Language can continue to develop.”

Making technology central is typical of the Deaf Reach system. The online tools are accompanied by a book, a CD and a phone app. Computers and televisions are prominent in classrooms, and teachers are encouraged to explore the Internet for supplementary materials.

The P.S.L. tools imprint three languages — Urdu, English and P.S.L. — on the children’s brains at the same time. They also enable relatives and others to learn P.S.L. even if they can’t attend regular training sessions. Meanwhile, a publicity campaign called “Don’t Say It, Sign It” shows Pakistani celebrities like the filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and the cricket star Shahid Afridi signing simple phrases in short online video clips, in an effort to remove the stigma of “otherness” and incapacity from the common perception of the deaf.

Ten thousand copies of the organization’s dictionary and DVDs have been distributed across Pakistan, and a second edition is in print. Next, the foundation will send “deaf leaders” to 25 cities to meet with their deaf communities and provide materials for smaller villages. By distributing 18,000 P.S.L. books and 7,000 DVD sets, the organization hopes this first phase of its project will affect 150,000 people.

In a country like Pakistan, where so many other languages and communities jostle for space, and a walk down any street reveals a modern-day Tower of Babel, what does it mean to give an entire community its own language? If “a loss of language is a loss of culture,” as Mr. Awasen says, then the gain of a language is a gain in culture. So empowering the deaf can only strengthen Pakistan’s social fabric; the deaf community will be proud to take its rightful position within the constellation of diversity that is one of Pakistan’s greatest assets.

Riaz Haq said...

Bilal I Gilani
@bilalgilani
Literacy rate by age

Alhamdulilah the younger generation is significantly more literate than older generation

Our literacy rate ( which is calculated on 15+ age group) is going to rise slowly as it has older cohorts in large numbers

Literacy is not end all but it's a start

https://twitter.com/bilalgilani/status/1679408985613676545?s=20

(Bar graph shows literacy rate is 75% for 10-14 age group, 73% for 15-19 and 69% for 20-24....going down to 51% for 40-44 and 34% for 60-64 age group)

Riaz Haq said...

Alexa, Google Home and Smartphones Could Make Illiteracy Unimportant - Newsweek


https://www.newsweek.com/2017/09/22/alexa-google-home-smart-phones-illiteracy-technology-voice-recognition-662282.html

In a speech-processing world, illiteracy no longer has to be a barrier to a decent life. Google is aggressively adding languages from developing nations because it sees a path to consumers it could never before touch: the 781 million adults who can't read or write. By just speaking into a cheap phone, this swath of the population could do basic things like sign up for social services, get a bank account or at least watch cat videos.

The technology will affect things in odd, small ways too. One example: At a conference not long ago, I listened to the head of Amazon Music, Steve Boom, talk about the impact Alexa will have on the industry. New bands are starting to realize they must have a name people can pronounce, unlike MGMT or Chvrches. When I walked over to my Alexa and asked it to play "Chu-ver-ches," it gave up and played "Pulling Muscles From the Shell" by Squeeze.

In fact, as good as the technology is today, it still has a lot to learn about context. I asked Alexa, "What is 'two turntables and a microphone'?" Instead of replying with anything about Beck, she just said, "Hmm, I'm not sure." But at least she didn't point me to the nearest ice cream cone.