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Literacy rate up to 54 percent: Prime Minister

ISLAMABAD, July 3(Daily Times): The literacy rate in the country rose to 54 percent and the gross enrolment rate for primary education improved from 72 percent to 87 percent in 2006, says Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

The net enrolment rate for children between five and nine years and six and 10 years has improved from 42 percent to 50 percent and 51 percent to 61 percent respectively, Aziz said while addressing the first ever convocation of the Foundation University here. He said illiterate nations could not make progress. He said education enhances human capabilities, creates opportunities for individual progress and social mobility.

According to Aziz the most critical difference between the rich and poor nations today is the level of education and the quality of human resource. He congratulated the graduates and praised those who had won distinction for their outstanding performance. "We must build up an education system based on clear objectives reflecting a healthy balance between academic pursuits and extra-curricular activities, natural and social sciences and technical skills and the liberal arts."

Aziz said all stakeholders policymakers, teachers, parents and students were responsible to ensure that the nation attain the highest level of education. He stressed the need for focusing on vocational training and equipping the students with technical and managerial skills. "We need to accelerate the adoption of new information and communication technologies and must expand access to female education to fully leverage more than half of the population," he said. The prime minister said, between 2001 to 2006, pro-poor budgetary spending was more than doubled, growing at an annual rate of almost 23 percent. He said the government had given the priority to technical and vocational education, which was being coordinated by the National Vocational and Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC).

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