On September 8, International Literacy Day is celebrated in many different ways. For 3.2 million children in Pakistan, International Literacy Day will be a landmark occasion. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has joined forces with regional governments and other Pakistani organizations to install a 160 million dollar project that will fund improvements in reading instruction and reading assessment in an estimated 38,000 public elementary schools across the country.
The launch of this program shows the United States’ commitment to the improvement of global literacy. By siding with Pakistan, a country with a high child labor rate, the IRC hopes to find a way to bring improved critical thinking and writing skills to deprived children.
Children are the main focus of this educational installment, but all levels of schooling are benefiting from the IRC. The program will introduce new degree programs at colleges, and provide 12,000 scholarships to study in Pakistan.
Many children in Pakistan live a life that does not include pen and paper. Approximately 5.1 million children between the ages of 5 and 9 remain out of school in Pakistan, and many of these children find themselves laboring in the workforce.
The children aged 10 to 14 only make up approximately 4 percent of the child workforce; furthering the need for a great emphasis to be placed on the development of elementary schools. The poor condition of these schools throughout the country is detrimental to the development of elementary aged children. Facilities at public schools are miserable, lacking essentials such as furniture, working fans, suitable water fountains, and acceptable toilets.
Access and transport to school is another problem. The rural literacy rate and the urban literacy depict a tale of interesting facts. The literacy rate in rural areas sits at an abysmal 49 percent. However, the literacy rate in the urban areas sits at a respectable 75 percent. Clearly, access to schooling plays a major factor in the literacy rates of different areas throughout the country.
Another wrinkle in the curious case of plummeting Pakistani children literacy rate is the feudal society in place. Forced employment due to ownership of land is an obstacle the IRC must surpass if they are to be successful in their revival of public education in the country.
The step taken by Pakistan to implement this program is a monumental one. Accepting foreign aid in an area of extreme necessity is an important step; one that could positively affect the child literacy rate for years to come. The IRC has taken a stand against child labor, and have effectively adopted a positive position for child education.
– Zachary Wright
Sources: Asia Sentinel, The News Tribe