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World literacy day : Education not govt's priority

world literacy day
Karachi, Sep 08: International Literacy Day is being observed the world over on September 8 (today). The theme this year, as arranged by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is "The Power of Literacy", with an aim to create a literate world for all.

While the literacy rate in Pakistan has been slowly increasing since 1951, the number of illiterates has also been rising due to rapid population growth. According to a UN report, about 44 per cent of the adult population in Pakistan cannot read and write, mainly due to the inability of the formal education system to meet the learning needs of all new born children in the country.

The reason behind the theme set this year, according to the UN, is the fact that "one in five adults is still not literate, and two-thirds of them are women, while 75 million children are out of school". Out of those 55-60 per cent children lucky enough to have been enrolled in primary schools, one third of them drop out before completing grade five, and most of them ultimately join the group of illiterates.

Perhaps a major reason for illiteracy in the country is that Pakistan has not been spending enough on basic education. In 1962, Pakistan signed an international declaration to increase its education budget up to 4 per cent of GNP by 1980. However, budget for the education sector has remained low - on average, less than one per cent of the education budget was allocated or spent for adult literacy and Non Formal Basic Education (NFBE) programmes.

The UN report further stated that absence of a proper organisational structure at various levels, low quality due to weak professional base and leadership gap or indifference of political leaders to patronise literacy movement in their areas were some other reasons of high illiteracy in the country. "Education is the responsibility of the provincial governments; however, the federal government ought to support critical areas, which are neglected or underdeveloped.

"By signing Education for All Declaration, Pakistan has committed to achieve the target of 86 per cent literacy by 2015. However, an analysis of the past trends shows that Pakistan will not be able to achieve this target unless existing pace is accelerated and country-wide programmes of adult literacy and NFBE are launched with energy and under a stronger leadership of parliamentarians, community leaders and social workers," the report said.

Sindh Education and Literacy Minister Pir Mazharul Haq has said that the government is providing facilities for education, and had taken measures in this regard.

He said that the government is distributing textbooks free of cost, selecting teachers on merit, and making provisions for buildings to schools without shelters, while computer labs in schools and colleges of the province are also being built.

"We have provided one billion rupees for repairing schools under the Sindh Educational Reformer Programme," he said, adding that 1,000 private schools had been established and 1,400 closed schools had reopened.s

Education Budget in Pakistan

(1995-96 to 2008-09) - - Year % of GDP
1995-96 - - 2.00
1996-97 - - 2.62
1997-98 - - 2.34
1998-99 - - 2.40
1999-00 - - 1.70
2000-01 - - 1.82
2001-02 - - 1.79
2002-03 - - 1.86
2003-04 - - 2.20
2004-05 - - 2.15
2005-06 - - 2.24
2006-07 - - 2.50
2007-08 - - 2.47
2008-09 - - 2.10

Source: Economic Survey (2002-2003, 2005-06, and 2008-09, Finance Division, Government of Pakistan. The news

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'Literacy rate in Pakistan very low'
Lahore: Like other countries of the world, International Literacy Day will also be observed in Pakistan on Tuesday (today) with a pledge to make over 780million adults of the world literate.

The day, first time observed on September 8, 1965, is being celebrated in the midst of UN Literacy Decade. Literacy is just the ability to read, write, listen, comprehend and speak a language, yet millions in the world including 55 per cent of Pakistanis are deprived of this fundamental right.

The pathetic aspect of the matter is about two-thirds of the illiterate are women in the world and remaining four billion people of the world have a challenge to bring them into its folds.

"Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world and according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), it is 55 per cent and Pakistan stands at 160th in total countries of the world. This indeed is a very alarming situation and a challenge which must be met with resolve, determination, and action by all those who can help," said Amanat Foundation Chairman Nisar A Memon in a massage.

He says illiteracy is a matter too serious to be left to the government alone, and each and every citizen must rise to the occasion to contribute his or her part to bring right of literacy to about 50million Pakistanis. The 'Power of Literacy' is the theme of 2009 Literacy Poster as literacy empowers the people to be enlightened and self respecting citizen. Our hard earned freedom shall be severely impacted and socio-economic emancipation will remain a dream without literacy, which is recognised as a lever of change and remedy for social transformation.

The talk of democracy, which is fundamental to development of individuals, communities and nations, would not translate into action without improving the literacy rate. "We need to spread significance of literacy and action to promote it in every nook and corner of the country," says Memon underling the importance of making the adults, especially women, literate.

He said Pakistan was bestowed with natural resources and to make their best use, human development by way of literacy, was needed. Benefits of literacy are life long and generations wise while the cost of illiteracy is subjugation, exploitation of many be a few.

Memon has called upon the political parties to unite on the agenda of making the whole nation literate, as it has to best serve the cause of democracy, economy and socio-economic progress in the country. The nation

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Many adults cannot read, write
Peshawar: People across the country will celebrate International Literacy Day today (September 8) with special focus on literacy needs. This year, International Literacy Day will put the spotlight on the empowering role of literacy and its importance for participation, citizenship and social development.

Literacy and Empowerment is the theme for the 2009-2010 biennium of the United Nations. Public and private departments will mark the day with seminars, workshops and conferences to highlight the importance of literacy. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

Despite many and varied efforts, literacy remains an elusive target: some 776 million adults lack minimum literacy skills which means that one in five adults is still not literate; 75 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out. September 08 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.

Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for all, children, youth and adults is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target. Education is the main vehicle for socio-economic development but, unfortunately about half of adult population in Pakistan cannot read and write.

Pakistan is sixth most populous country of the world. Due to rapid population growth and inability of the formal education system to bring all children into school, illiterate population has increased from 22 million in 1961 to 48 million by 2005. It is feared that by 2015, illiterate population in Pakistan may rise to 52 million. In the area of education, Pakistan is lagging behind other countries of South Asia, even lower than Nepal, Bangladesh and Maldives.

Pakistan has been spending less on education as compared to other countries in the region. According to Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2008 by UNESCO, Pakistan is spending 2.4 per cent of its GDP on education against the UNESCO recommended norm of a minimum of 4 per cent and against 3.8 per cent spent by India, 7.5 per cent by Maldives, 4.7 per cent by Iran and 3.4 per cent by Nepal. Out of 2.4 per cent only 1.93 per cent of GNP is being spent on education in real terms and only 11 per cent of the total education budget is allocated for the higher education sector. The total education budget is needed to be increased to a minimum of six per cent as recommended by UNESCO for developing countries with at least one-third of it going to the higher education sector.

Though, 16 major political parties of the country on February 5 this year had committed in a Joint Declaration on "Education For All in Pakistan" to increase the present allocation of the education budget from 2.4 per cent to 4 per cent of the GDP within the next three years. But the ruling coalition contrary to its claims after coming into power slashed 5.7 billion from the fourth quarter of the last year's budget of Higher Education Commission (HEC). The unexpected cut in the HEC's budget badly affected the universities which had no savings and even the salaries for the months of April and May 2008 had been paid after withdrawing money from Pension Funds, Students Fund, Reserve Fund and taking loans.

Literacy is the ability to read, write, listen and comprehend, and speak a language. In modern contexts, the word refers to reading and writing at a level adequate for communication or at a level that lets one understand and communicate abstract ideas. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has drafted a definition of literacy as the "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society. F.P. report

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