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

42 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...

According to UNICEF, scientific evidence available today tells us that in India alone more than 1 million child lives could be saved from scaling up known and proven cost effective interventions. With over 240 million children under the age of five, India contributes 25 percent of the world’s child deaths. It is evident that a major turnaround in India will ensure a significant impact globally!

The Education For All-Global Monitoring Report, released recently, says that out of the total 759 million illiterate adults in the world, India still has the highest number. “Over half of the illiterate adults live in just four countries: Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan,” the report said, adding the progress has been “painfully slow” and threatens to obstruct the Millennium Development Goals.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a novel use of cell phones in Pakistan to improve literacy:

A literacy programme delivered through the mobile phone to disadvantaged female learners in Punjab showed improved literacy skills.

The five-month programme, initiated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), targeted 250 females aged 15 to 24 years old in three districts.

Pakistan, with half its population illiterate, is the fourth largest contributor to the world illiterate population. The literacy rate for males is 63 per cent, compared to only 36 per cent for females, making the country with one of the widest gap in this region.

One of the main challenges in promoting literacy in the country is the lack of interest, Ichiro Miyazawa of UNESCO Islamabad, told FutureGov. “Many youths, after attending the basic literacy course, often relapse into illiteracy because the available reading materials are either too difficult or not interesting enough.”

In this pilot project which ended last month, these learners who have just completed the basic literacy course, were given a mobile phone each. They receive three text messages a day in the local language. They are required to practise reading and writing the messages in their work book and reply to their teachers by text.

Monthly assessments held at the learning centres showed improvement in literacy skills. While results varied in the three districts – Lahore, Sialkot and Hafizabad – learners who scored C reduced from an average of 52 per cent to 12 per cent.

UNESCO invested US$57 per learner to run this trial programme. Miyazawa expected that cost could be lowered to US$33 if the mobile phones were reused by at least three learners.

“We want the programme to be sustainable. If the learner wishes to continue after completing the programme, he or she can pay US$6 to keep the phone and continue receiving the messages,” he added.

While it will take some time to create awareness and gain acceptance, Miyazawa is confident that the benefits will quickly win the population. “56 per cent of learners and their family members were initially negative about the programme. The parents, in particularly, disapproved of their children carrying mobile phones and doubted that the phones would be used for learning. However, 87 per cent of them were satisfied with the effectiveness of the programme at the end.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC commentary by Soutik Biswas on India's "rights revolution":

Ensuring the basics in life remains the biggest challenge for India, six decades after independence.

Take food. Some 43% of Indian children younger than five are underweight - far above the global average of 25% or sub-Saharan Africa's 28%. India is a lowly 65th among 84 countries in the Global Hunger Index. Half of the world's hungry people live in India.

So the proposed right to food, entitling a poor family to 25kg of rice or wheat at three rupees (seven cents) a kilogram is good news. The bad news is that identifying the deserving poor is a challenge - there are four different government estimates of the very poor or below poverty line (BPL) people floating around. States may inflate numbers of beneficiaries to corner more federal benefits. Then there is the notoriously leaky public distribution system, from where food is often siphoned off by a triad of low-level bureaucrats, shop owners and middlemen.

Nobody can deny that the right to education - every child aged 6-14 can demand free schooling - is critical: an estimated eight million children in that age group do not attend school in India. India's 61% literacy rate lags behind Kenya's 85%. But critics point to a lack of teachers - India would need more than a million teachers just to implement the right - and say there are simply not enough schools to cope with the increased demand.

Rights don't work miracles. But activists say they are an urgent social intervention to empower the poor in a highly iniquitous society, where it is difficult for the poor to access officials to air their grievances and secure their entitlements. "In a hierarchical society, rights-based movements are a way of moving towards equality," says leading political scientist Mahesh Rangarajan. Also, they put pressure on the state to deliver - the right to information, despite glitches, is making government more accountable.

Studies show that sensitive political and bureaucratic leadership combined with grassroots awareness and an engaged local media can translate rights into reality and improve the lives of the poor. Activists point out that money is not a problem - the economy is doing well, revenues are buoyant, federal health and education outlays have been increased. The government has pledged more than $5bn to send 10 million poor children to school.

The cynicism over rights mainly comes from India's burgeoning educated upper middle class. It is mostly not engaged with public institutions at all - its members rarely serve in the lower ranks of the armed forces, teach in state schools or work for the government. Yes, there are valid concerns about whether the state has the capacity to deliver on rights. Yes, the Indian state continues to focus on maintaining law and order and collecting revenue. Delivering services is not its strength. Rights could actually help it move towards a functioning welfare state. I would like to hear stories from you - and people you may know - who are reaping the benefits of the rights revolution.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about Brookings finding that madrassas are not a major threat in Pakistan:

Islamic schools - or madrassas - in Pakistan are not stoking militancy or extremism, a report by a leading US think-tank has concluded.

The Brookings Institution report says that while religious schools are often cited as a cause of extremism, they "appear not to be a major risk factor".

The report says that fewer than 10% of Pakistani students attended madrassas.

It says that the real cause of militancy in the country is the poor public education system.
Urgent priority

Report co-author Rebecca Winthrop, a Brookings fellow, said that number of militant madrassas was not increasing.

She said that most Pakistani parents preferred not to send their children to school at all rather than to enrol them in madrassas.

"We do need to take the militant madrassa issue very seriously," she said at the launch of the report.

"We should really leave the question of the role of Islam in the Pakistan education system to the Pakistanis to debate. This is not something that I think is fruitful if outsiders - us here in the US - start weighing in on."

The study found that the most urgent priority was to increase the supply of schools in Pakistan, where a literacy rate of 56% is among the lowest outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The researchers said that low enrolment rates were "a risk factor for violence" and that demand for education inside Pakistan "far exceeded the government's ability to provide it".

Furthermore, Pakistan's public school system was "highly corrupt" with teaching positions handed out in return for political favours and teachers paid regardless or whether they turned up for work or not.

"The way the education system is set up is contributing to support militancy," said Ms Winthrop.

"Historically education in Pakistan has been used as a tool by successive regimes in pursuing narrow political ends."

She said that the curriculum and teaching methods in public schools promoted the dissemination of intolerant views and did not prepare students in their search for employment.

The report said that this turn frustrated youngsters and increased the pool of militant recruits.

"The almost exclusive focus on madrassas as a security challenge - which is especially prevalent in the west - needs to be corrected," the report said.

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...

Here's a story about the promise of Danish Schools, a series of boarding schools being set up in Pakistani Punjab by the provincial govt of chief minister Sahbaz Sharif for the poor as an alteranative to the madrassa system:

Outside the window, a Pakistani flag flutters, inside, a teacher asks a group of 6th-grader girls and boys, “Who can make a food chain?” A girl comes up to the board and uses a pen as a mouse to click and drag an animated plant to the first box, a worm to the second and a bird to the third. “Excellent,” Says the teacher. She goes and sits down with a smile on her face.

This is not an ordinary board, it’s a smart board, the first of its kind in Pakistan, and this is no ordinary school. Inaugurated January 18th, The Danish School System at Rahim Yar Khan stands in stark contrast to the rural terrain of this Southern Punjab city. Children enrolled in this school have to fit a certain criteria, not just that they have to pass an entry test, but they have to either have a missing parent, or both parents, they have to have an illiterate parent and they must have a monthly income of less than USD 100 - they must belong in short to the forgotten class of Pakistan’s poor and minorities.

This is affirmative action, giving the underprivileged a chance to have a level playing field. But how real is it? For one, it has the clear support of the government of Punjab which has faced severe criticism from all quarters about the surge of 25 billion rupees invested in a series of these purpose-built campuses for both girls and boys all over Punjab. These critics claim that money could have been better spent elsewhere on better alternatives like building roads or canals.
---------
The Danish Schools stands as an alternative to madrassa education because the school provides free lodging and boarding to all its students. It not only gives students a rounded education in the sciences and the arts but also provides social and extracurricular exposure. An on call psychologist also monitors each of the student’s behavior and has counseling sessions with the children and their parent or gurdian for a smooth transition into boarding life.

Despite the challenges, there is a certain spark and energy in the entire Danish school core committee headed by LUMS Provost, Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, and the teachers and students. At the inaugural ceremony, one child danced on Shakira’s Waka Waka, another child, Aasia Allah-Wasiah told a 500 odd gathering the story of her life, how she became an orphan and how Danish school was her only hope for a future.

Not all parents were this easily convinced of Danish School’s objectives. One asked the girls’ school principle, “Why would you give me back my child after giving her clothes and shoes and spending so much on her? I know this is a conspiracy to buy our children from us.”

Other parents objected to there being non-Muslim students eating in the same utensils. The management responded by saying “we all eat in the same plates as any Hindu or Christian boy because this school is for everyone equally.” Needless to say that Rahim Yar Khan, despite scattered industrial units is largely agrarian and the people are deeply influenced by the exclusivist brand of Wahabism.
---
With a meager amount of the GDP being spent on education, it is a positive sign to have politicians finally focus on this sector to secure their vote bank. With time the criticism towards these initiatives, such as the importance of Danish schools adopting the O-Levels system, may fine tune the programs into being more effective for the people. And especially those people who don’t have a voice.

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...

Here's an Express Tribune report on rural female literacy increase contributing to higher literacy rate in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: The quest for knowledge in rural areas, particularly in females, compensated for the declining trend of getting an education in cities, according to the Pakistan Labour Force survey.

In 2009-10 the literacy rate in Pakistan marginally increased to 57.7 per cent due to an increase in the literacy ratio of females in rural areas. During the preceding year the literacy rate was 57.4 per cent. The male literacy rate stood at 69.5 per cent while it was 45.2 per cent for females.

According to the official definition, the literacy rate is that percentage of the population ten years and above which is able to read and write in any language.

Though more than half of the rural population is illiterate, the ratio improved by over half a percentage point to 49.2 per cent by June 30, 2010 due to an increasing number of women and girls who can read and write. The female literacy ratio improved to 34.2 per cent, a progress of 0.8 per cent in a year. In rural areas, the 63.6 per cent male literacy rate improved by only 0.4 per cent in comparison. The literacy rate in urban areas marginally declined due to a dip in the number of men who qualify as literate. The urban literacy ratio decreased 0.1 per cent to 73.2 per cent, due to a fractional reduction in the male literacy rate. At present more than eight out of ten urban males are educated but the ratio is below that of 2008-09.

The provincial literacy rates also depict interesting trends. In Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the number of educated people increased, while it decreased in Sindh. The figure remained stagnant in Balochistan at 51.5 per cent. Punjab turned out to be the most educated province, followed by Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber -Pakhtunkhwa.

In Sindh the percentage of educated people dropped by one per cent to 58.2 per cent in 2009-10. The declining ratios were witnessed across the divide, rural, urban, females and males. Contrary to that in Punjab the literacy rate increased to 59.6 per cent. Over half of the rural population is literate and the urban literacy ratio stood at almost three-fourth in the province.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa the literacy rate increased to 50.9 per cent, a progress of almost one per cent. The rural literacy rate increased to 48.4 per cent but the urban literacy dipped by 0.4 per cent. The urban literacy rate increased while the rural literacy rate declined.

In terms of level of education, near four out of ten literate people are not even matriculates. Another one out of ten is below intermediate, the survey reveals. Only 4.7 per cent of the total literate population has cleared intermediate but not bachelor’s and just 4.3 per cent have a bachelor’s or above. Even today over four out of ten Pakistanis are illiterate according to official figures.

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...

British Prime Minister David Cameron, now on a visit to Pakistan, has offered about $1 billion in aid for education, according to Financial Times:

Please respect FT.com's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cc68ce4c-5f91-11e0-bd1b-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1IfKt9DJ6

David Cameron offered Pakistan’s leaders up to £650m ($1,055m) of aid for schools and heaped praise on their “huge fight” against terrorism in a diplomatic gamble to end years of mutual mistrust with a gesture of goodwill.

During a confidence-building visit to Islamabad with an entourage of his most senior security advisers, Mr Cameron jettisoned the usual list of UK demands and instead gave Pakistan the benefit of the doubt over Afghanistan and its support for militant groups.

Please respect FT.com's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cc68ce4c-5f91-11e0-bd1b-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1IfLC3dkM

Such optimism over Islamabad’s intentions marks a big break in British diplomacy, making a stark contrast with Mr Cameron’s description of Pakistan “looking both ways” on terrorism, a remark that triggered a serious diplomatic incident last year.

Rather than regarding Pakistan as a country that “can do more”, particularly on curbing Taliban activities, the British assumption is now that Islamabad’s security agencies have limited control over militant groups they once helped to create.

The big test for Mr Cameron is whether his expression of trust can generate better results than the more transactional approach adopted in the past. British officials say they are already seeing tangible improvements in intelligence co-operation and a greater willingness to discuss a political peace deal in Afghanistan.

Mr Cameron sought to demonstrate the breadth of the new partnership by offering funds for up to 4m school places by 2015. “I struggle to find a country that’s more in our interest to progress and succeed than Pakistan,” Mr Cameron said after a meeting with Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister.

“If Pakistan succeeds then we will have a good story ... if it fails we will have all the problems of migration and extremism, all the problems.”

The package of up to £650m, which more than doubles previous education funding, forms part of an aid programme that is set to become Britain’s biggest.
----------
The centrepiece of Mr Cameron’s visit was a security round-table with Pakistan’s civilian leadership and General Ashfaq Kayani, its military chief. Sir John Sawers, head of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, and General Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, also attended, in their second visit to Islamabad in less than a month.

Mr Gilani later brushed aside questions over Pakistan’s willingness to combat terrorism. “We’ve the ability and we have the resolve and we are fighting and we’ve paid a very heavy price for that,” he said, citing the 30,000 casualties in Pakistan’s effort to quell an internal insurgency.

One senior Pakistani government official speaking after Mr Cameron’s meetings said closer security ties would take some more time to develop. “Clearly, the UK wants Pakistan to extend help to combat militant plots on British soil,” he said. “But the UK will also need to be much more forthcoming on helping Pakistan to go after members of its own militant groups from places like Baluchistan who have taken refuge in Britain.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an assessment of Pakistan's education crisis by Rebecca Winthrop of Brookings Inst:

For the millions of people who read and were inspired by Greg Mortenson’s books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, Sunday’s revelations by CBS News’ 60 Minutes that much of his story was at best vastly exaggerated and at worst fabricated, came as deep disappointment. ......

As I travel around Pakistan this week and look at education issues across the country, including in the Federally Administered Northern Areas where Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea was set, I am struck by the bitter-sweet effect of these revelations. On the one hand, Mortenson’s book hid one of the country’s biggest educational success stories and promulgated a model of education assistance that has been proven time and again to be ineffective. On the other hand, his story captured the hearts of millions, bringing needed attention to the very real educational needs of Pakistan’s children and articulating the very important role good quality education can play in reducing conflict risk.
-----------
Contrary to the Three Cups of Tea portrayal of Gilgit-Bultistan as a place with little educational opportunity, it is one of the regions in Pakistan that has demonstrated true educational transformation over the last 50 years. In 1946, just prior to partition from India, there were an estimated six primary schools and one middle school for the entire region. Today there are over 1,800 primary, 500 middle, 420 high schools, and almost 40 higher education institutions. Girls are often noted to be outperforming boys and staying in school longer. It is true that community leadership and civil society organizations have played a major role in this transformation; it just was not Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute. When I asked the governor of Gilgit-Bultistan, Pir Syed Karam Ali Shah, how this education transformation came about, he was quick to point to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a network of private, international, nondenominational development organizations, an assertion with which other education experts concur. Led by His Highness the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, the concerted focus on improving education, and especially girls’ education, started in 1946 and has continued, led by community members, for decades. Initially starting in the Ismaili communities in Gilgit-Bultistan, the work spread quickly to other non-Ismaili communities in the region, when the clear economic and health benefits of educating girls were seen by neighboring communities. Many civil society organizations, government interventions and public-private partnerships have developed over time, helping to increase levels of human capital and capacity through heavy investment in education, particularly of girls. According to Mehnaz Aziz, member of the national Pakistan Education Task Force, if the rest of Pakistan could only follow in the footsteps of the people of Gilgit-Bultistan, the status of education in Pakistan would be greatly improved.

... Increasing access to quality education is likely to reduce Pakistan’s risk of conflict as cross-country estimates show that increasing educational attainment is strongly correlated with conflict risk reduction. Last month, a national campaign – Education Emergency Pakistan 2011 – was launched to spur country-wide dialogue on the need to prioritize educational investment and progress.
-----------
It is unfortunate that the 60 Minutes expose has called into question the accuracy of Greg Mortenson’s books. Without defending Mortenson or whether the facts in his memoirs are accurate, I can say truthfully that there is indeed a very serious education crisis in Pakistan. The international community should not lose sight of this and the real needs of the Pakistani children and youth seeking to improve their lives.

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 report on Benazir Income Support Program:

ISLAMABAD: The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has proved to be highly effective programme for poverty alleviation and women empowerment considering its efficiency, technology based operations and transparency; the programme ought to be replicated in the other countries of the world as well.

According to a press release, Michal Rutkowski, Director Human Development South Asian Region, World Bank, said this during a meeting with Federal Minister and Chairperson of BISP, Farzana Raja while heading a delegation here at BISP Secretariat Wednesday.

Rutkowski said that the World Bank is proud of working with organization like BISP and appreciates its performance and reliability. While taking special interest in vocational training scheme of BISP, he said that the corporate sector and foreign employers may also invest in this particular initiative.

He termed Waseela-e-Taleem initiative of BISP, instrumental in the promotion of education, as similar initiatives have been proved successful in the other countries as well.

Earlier, Farzana Raja presented details of various initiatives of BISP for uplifting the living standards of millions of poor families across Pakistan. She said that one million out of school children of these poor families will be enrolled in the schools under Waseela-e-Taleem.

She said that BISP has employed state of the art technology in all of its mechanisms to facilitate its beneficiary in a more efficient and transparent manner. Farzana Raja said that BISP is seeking cooperation from various public and private organizations of the world working in the social sector to continue its various initiatives aiming at poverty alleviation in an effective manner.

She added further that BISP needs support of the World Bank for marketing BISP in the world especially for replication of such experiences in the other countries.


http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=185387

Riaz Haq said...

"Literacy, as defined in Census operations, is the ability to read and write with understanding in any language. A person who can merely read but cannot write is not classified as literate. Any formal education or minimum educational standard is not necessary to be considered literate. Adopting these definitions, the literacy level of the country as a whole was only 29.45 per cent with male literacy at 39.45 per cent and female literacy at 18.69 per cent. "

http://lawmin.nic.in/ncrwc/finalreport/v2b1-5.htm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a UN news report on Balochi girls desperate for education in Pakistan:

QUETTA, 29 November 2011 (IRIN) - Gehava Bibi, 9, is very excited. She is visiting the city of Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, with her father to buy some basic school supplies. She has never held a pencil or piece of chalk. “This seems like magic,” she told IRIN as she awkwardly drew a few squiggly lines across a piece of paper offered to her by the shop-owner.

Bibi has never been to school; there is no educational facility in her village in the Bolan district, some 154km southeast of Quetta, and like 90 percent of women in rural Balochistan, according to official figures, she is illiterate.

However, recently, an elderly villager, who had spent many years in the southern port city of Karachi, has returned to Bolan and offered to provide the girls in the village with some basic education.

Fazila Aliani, a social activist, educationist and former member of the Balochistan provincial assembly, recently told the media the reason for the lack of educational facilities was the “insurgency” in the province, “while a lack of necessary funds, absence of a well-defined education policy, lack of girls’ schools, acute shortage of teaching staff, and poverty are other factors which contribute to the backwardness”.

She said that except for Quetta, educational institutions were “non-existent in Baloch-dominated areas of the province”. Aliani also said foreign donors seeking to set up schools in Balochistan struggled to do so because of the lack of security and government resistance.
-----------------
The attacks on teachers aggravate what is an already grim literacy situation for girls. “I used to teach at a private school in the town of Khuzdar in Balochistan. But it is now just too dangerous to live in the province as a Punjabi settler, and my family and I have now moved back to Gujrat in the Punjab province even though we had lived in Balochistan since I was a small child,” said Amina Bano, 28. Other teachers too have moved away.

Balochistan’s literacy figures for women are the lowest in the country, standing at 14.1 percent, compared with more than 35 percent each in Sindh and the Punjab and 18.8 percent in Khyber Pakhtoonkh’wa.

The Chief Minister of Balochistan, Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani, has repeatedly condemned the targeting of teachers, and said those involved were “depriving future generations” of education.

“The lack of development in the province is a reason for the lack of education for girls. It is also fuelling the frustration and anger which has created the nationalist insurgency,” Fareed Ahmed, provincial coordinator in Balochistan for the autonomous Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told IRIN.

But while nationalist unrest and lack of development have plagued Balochistan for years, this offers no comfort to girls – and their parents – desperate for an education.

“On our television screens, we see girls sitting in classrooms and learning. Their future will be a better one, and unlike me, since I am also uneducated, they can teach their children in the future. Why can’t it be the same for our daughters?” asked Abdullah Jan, 40, father of Gehava Bibi and two other girls, who wants them all to be educated.

“We are trying to do what we can, but we need help,” he said.


http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=94331

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on the airing of the first episode of Sim Sim Humara in Pakistan:

The first episode of the Pakistan Children Television’s programme “Sim Sim Hamara”, an educational and capacity-building TV series for children, will be aired on Dec 10 at national TV.

The TV series will be a high-quality early education resource for a large number of children who lack access to formal education opportunities.

“Sim Sim Hamara” is the Pakistani adaptation of the engaging programme “Sesame Street”, created by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, New York, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The theatre group will create a total of 130 episodes of the “Sim Sim Hamra” broadcast on PTV Home.

Seventy-eight of these episodes will be produced in Urdu and 52 in national languages. The first episode will be aired at 5:30pm on Dec 10 and the repeat telecast will be at 9:30am next day. The moving spirit behind the project, Faizan Pirzada told Dawn that “along with language and numeracy skills, this new educational show will promote basic life skills, healthy habits, mutual respect and love for learning. The show’s locally-developed puppet stars include Rani, a six-year old school girl with a keen interest in natural sciences and a love of reading, Munna, a five-year old boy with big dreams and a flair for mathematics and numbers, Baily, a fluffy, hardworking donkey who aspires to be a pop star, Baji, a colourful, spirited woman with a passion for food, family, fun and tradition, and Haseen-o-Jameel, a crocodile who has a wonderful way with words, rhymes and songs.”

Throwing light on the background of the project, one of the heads of the PC TV, Faizan Pirzada said Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, held a national content seminar and four provincial workshops to gather educational advisers from various fields to provide direction for the educational framework for the Pakistan Children’s Television project.

He said the participants included representatives from both regional and federal government entities, academicians, performing artists, civil society members working with children, representatives from Sesame Workshop, USAID and the federal education secretary.

He said there’s a need to impress upon children and families the fact that learning happens in both formal and non-formal environments. PC television is using authentic examples from the real world, such as observing a family member count change at the grocery store, weighing produce on scales at the vegetable market, reading prayers from the Holy Quran and other holy texts, and measuring ingredients for ‘roti’ as a basis for storylines and materials that promote a lifelong love of learning.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/02/educational-tv-serial-for-children-from-dec-10.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Brookings Inst paper on mobile phones are helping increase female literacy in Pakistan:

In the small village of Hafizibad in Pakistan’s Punjab province, a young girl is using her mobile phone to send an SMS message in Urdu to her teacher. After sending, she receives messages from her teacher in response, which she diligently copies by hand in her notebook to practice her writing skills. She does this from the safety of her home, and with her parents’ permission, during the school break, which is significant due to the insecurity of the rural region in which she lives. The girl is part of a Mobilink-UNESCO program to increase literacy skills among girls in Pakistan. Initial outcomes look positive; after four months, the percentage of girls who achieved an A level on literacy examinations increased from 27 percent to 54 percent. Likewise, the percentage of girls who achieved a C level on examinations decreased from 52 percent to 15 percent. The power of mobile phone technology, which is fairly widespread in Pakistan, appears in this case to help hurdle several education barriers by finding new ways to support learning for rural girls in insecure areas—girls who usually have limited opportunities to attend school and who frequently do not receive individual attention when they do. Often they live in households with very few books or other materials to help them retain over summer vacation what they learned during the school year.

http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2012/01_education_technology_winthrop.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on UNICEF's Every Child in School campaign:

Around 20 million children in Pakistan, including an estimated 7.3 million of primary school age, are not in school, said a statement issued by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Friday.

“Investing in children and their education is vital due to the positive impacts it has on so many socio-economic dimensions. It is therefore imperative that all children in Pakistan, both boys and girls, have the opportunity to attend and complete their schooling,” the statement said.

About the efforts of the fund for promoting education for children across the country, the statement said, “UNICEF is supporting the nationwide ‘Every Child in School’ campaign, which encourages parents and communities to ensure that all primary school-age children are enrolled for the new school year. A special focus is being placed on enrolling girls, who represent 57 percent of primary school-age children who are not attending school. Girls from poor families in rural areas, for example, receive just over one year of education, on average.”

“The disparities in educational opportunities are influenced by multiple factors, like wealth, gender, ethnicity, geographic location, early learning opportunities, access and quality of learning – and it is therefore critical that all who can positively influence children’s learning opportunities should come forward to ensure that this school-year is more successful than ever,” said UNICEF Pakistan Representative Dan Rohrmann.

“We must ensure that all children are in school. Free and quality education for all children, especially the most vulnerable, is essential to Pakistan’s economic and social development. An investment in children is an investment in Pakistan’s future,” Rohrmann said, adding, “The realisation of Pakistan’s vision for social and economic development depends on success of its education system.”

The right of a child to receive education is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The 18th Amendment of the Constitution of Pakistan provides an added opportunity to realise this right, as Article 25A requires the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and 16, as determined by the law.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\04\07\story_7-4-2012_pg7_3

http://www.unicef.org/pakistan/media_7589.htm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story of WFP program take-home rations for school girls in Bajaur agency in FATA:

Taking turns to lug a heavy can of edible oil, Mushtari and Sheema Gul, twin sisters aged nine, trip home happily from their school in Ghareebabad village in Pakistan’s troubled Bajaur Agency.

“Our kitchen is run on this oil,” explains Sheema. The shiny cans are distributed in her school under World Food Programme (WFP)’s ‘Back to school, stay in school’ project launched as people began streaming back to the Bajaur after the Pakistan army completed flushing out Taliban militants from the agency in April 2011.

“Last year, as people displaced by the fighting began returning, we entered into an agreement with the WFP to launch the project,” Akramullah Shah, an official of Bajaur Agency’s education department, tells IPS.

From 2007 to 2009, when the Taliban held sway over Bajaur Agency, about 100,000 people fled for safety to makeshift camps. “During that period Taliban militants destroyed 107 schools and disrupted education services, affecting about 80,000 students,” Shah said.

With much of Bajaur’s infrastructure reduced to rubble and the mainstay of agriculture ruined, the returning residents had little to look forward to and were reluctant to take on the added burden of sending their children to school.

Ghufran Gul, father of Mushtari and Sheema, said he would not have been able to send his daughters to school but for the WFP programme of distributing edible oil and fortified biscuits. “The oil is tasty and people like to use it for making rotis (unleavened bread),” he said.

“We are happy. We sisters get the biscuits while the oil is used by the entire family,” said the Gul twins who study in grade three of the government girls’ high school in Bajaur.
---------
“As soon as the Pakistan army had defeated the militants, we started reconstruction of damaged schools and launched programmes to encourage the students to return, ” Bajaur Agency lawmaker Akhunzada Muhammad Chittan told IPS.

According to Chittan, enrolment at the government-run primary schools had increased from 102,922 in 2010 to 1,320,876 by the end of June this year and was to improve further.

“Apart from providing free books and food items, relief organisations other than the WFP have been pitching in with purchased uniforms, shoes and teaching kits that are powerful incentives for parents to send their children to schools,” he said.

According to the 2008 census the literacy rate among the FATA’s 3.2 million population is just 22 percent, well below the national average of 56 percent.

A brief setback to the food distribution programme occurred in December 2010 when a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a WFP centre in the Bajaur, killing 45 people and injuring 80 others.

WFP spokesperson Amjad Jamal said the food assistance programme was due to run until the end of this year, but the U.N. agency has proposed that it should be allowed to continue until 2015.

“The main objectives of the programme are to protect children from hunger and motivate the parents to send their children back to schools to resume their education,” he said.

Except for the North Waziristan Agency, the WFP programme now covers the whole of the FATA and parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhthunkwa provinces.


http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/07/pouring-edible-oil-on-pakistans-troubled-areas/

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 Junior 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.

------------

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”
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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
----------
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 a Newstribe story on USAID program to increase literacy in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: The United States announces the launch of the Pakistan Reading Project to boost the reading skills of 3.2 million Pakistani children.

This project will fund improvements in reading instruction and reading assessment in grades one through five throughout the Pakistani public school system. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), which is partnering with regional governments and Pakistani civil society organizations, will implement this $160 million project in an estimated 38,000 public schools over the next five years.

The launch of this program on International Literacy Day, observed annually on September 8, demonstrates the firm commitment of the United States and its Pakistani partners to improving critical reading and writing skills.

“The Pakistan Reading Project provides Pakistani children an opportunity to develop skills which are essential for success in higher education and in the workplace. Children who do not learn to read in the first few grades of school will struggle to keep up with classroom assignments in later grades,” Gregory Gottlieb, Mission Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said after the agreement was signed between USAID and IRC. “IRC is honored to work on such an important project which will help improve the quality of education for millions of Pakistani children,” IRC Chief of Party, John Shumaker, said.

This initiative is just one part of a comprehensive U.S. education assistance program which includes building or rehabilitating nearly 800 schools; launching new degree programs in education at 90 colleges and universities; providing scholarships for 12,000 students to study in Pakistan; and operating the largest Fulbright academic exchange program in the world.


http://www.thenewstribe.com/2013/09/06/international-literacy-day-united-states-announces-160-million-pakistan-reading-project/

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 an Express Tribune story on Nawaz Sharif's launch of literacy movement in Pakistan:

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday unveiled plans to launch a countrywide literacy movement to ensure the enrollment of every child in school, with aims to allocate four per cent of GDP on education by 2018.
“Our effort is to achieve the targets, set by Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the coming three years.”
Among the targets set by UNESCO is to increase resources for the education sector to reach four per cent of GDP by the year 2018, Nawaz said as he inaugurated the international conference on ‘Unfinished Agenda in Education: the Way Forward’.
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The prime minister said the government’s objective was to develop an education system which is compatible with the requirements of a knowledge-based economy.
Nawaz stressed that focus is needed on science and technology and developing modern skills in the education system, besides calling for prioritisation of female education in education policy, effective participation of women in the decision-making process and to protect their respect and dignity.
“For Pakistan, education was not merely a matter of priority, but it is the future of Pakistan, which lies in its educated youth.
“It has, in fact, become a national emergency. More than half of the country’s population is below 25 years of age. With proper education and training, this huge reservoir of human capital can offer us an edge in the race for growth and prosperity in the age of globalisation. Without education, this resource can turn into a burden,” the prime minister said.
With low budget allocations for education a primary concern, along with a very high number of out of school children, high drop-out rates, gender disparity, low literacy rate, realising the MDGs and EFA targets was a priority.
Not forgetting the 18th amendment, Nawaz said that despite education being a provincial subject, there was national consensus on the need for reform and modernisation of the country’s educational system to bring it at par with the national priorities and international standards.
“I believe that education is not an expense, but an investment into the future. Rather, it is the best investment an individual, parent or nation can make.”
In this regard, he directed the Planning Commission to give education top priority in their Vision 2025 programme.
Private sector plays key role
Nawaz noted the contribution of the private sector to education in Pakistan.
“Out of the 14.4 million primary stage enrolments, 4.8 million i.e. 34 per cent are enrolled in private sector schools. Private sector share is much higher at the lower, middle and secondary levels,” the prime minister added.
Lauding the role of UN agencies, NGOs, civil society, religious institutions, delivery agents, and donors’ community, he invited everyone to join the government in its mission to educate and train Pakistan’s youth.
“I have no doubt that they can turn around all our challenges into opportunities. They also have the potential to contribute immensely and positively to world peace and prosperity.”
Sharing his views on successful democratic transition in Pakistan, the prime minister dreamed of a Pakistan where every citizen gets educated in the real sense and thereby contributes to the development of the country.
$340 million for education
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He said the passage of pre-requisite laws by the provincial assemblies was a good step and added that the international community also received and responded to the government’s message showing its resolve to get every child in school by 2015.
Brown said the global partnership for education had committed $100 million, the USAID $140 million and the European community $100 million, besides support from Saudi Arabia, United Nations and other countries....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/688836/literacy-movement-4-gdp-for-education-by-2018-vows-nawaz/

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