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National Book Day : Without books, history is silent

Love books as source of wisdom, lifelong friend
Islamabad, April 22: The first 'National Book Day' will be celebrated throughout the country on Thursday (April 22) to highlight the importance of books that, according to American historian and writer Barbara W. Tuchman, are the carriers of civilisation. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled."

Organised by the National Book Foundation (NBF) the day-long celebrations will start with the hoisting of 'book flag' at the National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBAF), and other cities including Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore, followed by oath-taking of readers who will promise to devote their leisure time to book reading.

Other organisations that are collaborating with the NBF in celebrating the day include Pakistan Academy of Letters, National Language Auth-ority, Iqbal Academy, Federal Directorate of Education, Federal Board of Intermediate and Secon-dary Education, Islamabad College for Girls F-6/2, literary organisations, Imkan, Zavia, Halqa Arbab-e-Zauq, Idara Adab-o-Saqafat, Danish, and Pakistan Libraries Association.

"It is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that a day in the life of the nation would be dedicated to book to highlight the importance of reading in the economic, cultural and intellectual advancement of the country," NBF Managing-Director Mazharul Islam said here Wednesday.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Education Assef Ahmed Ali will inaugurate the programme at the National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBAF).

Mr Islam, a noted short-story writer, author said at the book festival scholars, intellectuals, literati, artists, popular personalities from showbiz as well as book ambassadors, including Iftikhar Arif, Mansha Yad, Shabnam Shakeel, Senator Maula Bakhsh Chandio, film star Reema Khan, Rana Seerat and Anwar Jahangir will read out excerpts from their favourite books.

Children will recite the theme song Kitabon ki dunya salamt rahay; Roshni dosti ki alamat rahay composed for the occasion and read stories from books.

Books will be distributed as gifts among patients in hospitals, prisoners in selected jails and children in katchi abadis of the federal capital, he said.

Mr Islam, who has received accolade from public as well as media for his unique ideas and work for the promotion of reading culture, expressed his concern for the gradual decline of literature and scholarship in society and urged the book lovers to revive and popularize the tradition of giving books as gifts on special occasions like birthdays, mothers', fathers' days, weddings, and other religious and cultural festivals as token of love to loved ones.

"Let us all love, cherish and celebrate books not just as sources of knowledge and wisdom but for their own sake too, as man's lifelong friend and loyal companion of solitude," he said.

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Extra marks proposed for students teaching adults
Peshawar: A lawmaker in the provincial assembly has suggested through a bill that students should teach at least two persons of their localities and get additional marks in the examinations to increase adult literacy in the province.

MPA Saqibullah Khan Chamkani of the ruling Awami National Party has recently submitted the private bill -- Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province Adult Literacy (Principles) Bill, 2010 -- in the assembly secretariat, it is learnt.

The bill doesn't involve any financial implication for the provincial kitty, however, it envisage an innovative idea of engaging students in increasing adult literacy.

The said bill includes provisions regarding adult literacy. It states that the government, within a period of one year, shall: ensure the right to education of all citizens, regardless of age; address the education needs of adults alike; make and maintain an adult education delivery system; and appropriate reasonable budgetary allocation to support adult education delivery system.

The interim arrangement proposes that a student of 10th and 12th grades shall be given 10 and 15 extra marks respectively if the student teaches at least one illiterate adult person how to read and write his or her name, read and write numeric from zero to 10, and Urdu/Pashto alphabets.

It also suggests that a student seeking a bachelor degree shall be given 20 extra marks if he/she teaches two illiterate adult persons read and writ his or her name, read and write numeric from zero to 10 and Urdu/Pashto alphabets.

Under the proposed law it would be binding on the government to prepare and lay annual report before the assembly every year in the month of May. The report would be comprised on the overall activities carried out by the government in the execution of adult literacy in the province, the number of adults got literate, expenditures of adult literacy system, appropriate budgetary allocation for the current financial year and proposed plan for the coming year.

The bill sates that the standing committee of assembly shall have exclusive power to monitor the adult education delivery system and submit special reports to the assembly evaluating activities of government delivering adult literacy.

The proposed bill defines the literacy as: reading newspaper in local/national language; writing a simple letter; and ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide up to three figures.

The preamble of the bill states that as the state is duty bound by the Constitution to remove illiteracy and provide for free education; and whereas right to education is a fundamental right of every citizen, therefore, it is expedient to provide for broad principles of adult literacy in the province.

MPA Chamkani, when contacted, said that assemblies should focus on the long term policies. "Here people get education for certificates and government jobs which is a burden on the government," he said.

He said that in the proposed law the students of grade 10th and intermediate would get 15 marks while the students of bachelor degree would get 20 marks for teaching at least one illiterate adult person.

"This way, thousands of people would get literate across the province without spending a single penny from the national exchequer as each year thousands of students qualify examinations," he said.

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USAID withholds funds for 10 schools
Mansehra: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has withheld funds for reconstruction of 10 schools in the district.

An official document shows the USAID had sanctioned $120 million for reconstruction of 75 schools -- 44 in Azad Kashmir and 31 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa -- destroyed in the 2005 devastating earthquake.

Sources said that of the total amount, $30 million had been allocated for the Mansehra schools.

The contract of the 31 schools of Mansehra had been awarded to a US construction company, Camp Dresser and McKee (CDM). So far, 10 schools have been rebuilt and up to 50 per cent work has been completed on 11 schools.

However, work on the remaining 10 schools, including the Govt High School (GHS) No. 1, Mansehra, GHS, Jabory, GHS, Parhana, Govt Girls High School, Kaghan, Govt Primary School, Kaghan, GHS, Kaghan, GHS, Naran, GHS, Purhana, Govt Primary School, Naran, and the Govt Higher Secondary School, Jarad, could not be started as yet, leading to protest demonstrations by students and their parents.

The sources said the CDM had informed the executive district officer (education) about their inability to reconstruct the remaining 10 schools since the USAID had stopped funding.

They said the USAID had withheld funds and stopped the payment as some black sheep in Erra created hurdles in execution of the projects because USAID directly transferred money to the CDM account.

When contacted by telephone, chief of party of CDM Tariq Suliman said that 10 schools were excluded from the reconstruction schedule after the USAID wished so and stopped the funding. Dawn

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