One who knows the self is deer will cherish and protect it; the wise one is vigilant through the night. – BUDDHA, in the DHAMMAPADA
By Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo / Fakir Abdul Ghafoor Alasti
Courtesy: Daily Ibrat, May 7, 2008
[How to Achieve 100% Primary Education and 50% Adult Literacy for Rural Areas and Katchi Abadies of Sindh within 5 years And also to facilitate Access to Elementary Education (From Class VI to Class VIII) for all those who pass their 5 year primary and 2 year adult literacy exams from their village schools/centres in the rural areas and Katchi Abadies, of Sindh, by 2015.]
Our first plea, as an introduction to the proposal is:
The present day definition of literacy:
Anyone who could read and write with reasonable ease and do simple arithmetic with numbers, that is, passes 3Rs one of ‘Read’, one of ‘write’ and one of ‘arithmetic’ is considered to be literate, may he or she be a small baby or a Harvard University professor. The former is always innocent but not the later, who could also be maker of Atom Bomb and boast to be the president or prime minister of a country.
To us literacy is access to ‘knowledge’ and through it access to ‘humanity”. All sciences, formulas, QEDs bring knowledge to the seeker of objective truth, our request and appeal to him or her is “please Know Thyself,” as a human person.
After such a definition of literary. (Knowledge i.e. light of life, love and joy on earth), we proceed to the proposal for a viable access to it.
Where does our country stand now in its access to literacy? Fortunately for us, His Excellence the UNO Head here in our country – the chief of UNESCO answered this question to us and also for all our countrymen & women. It is reproduced in full text as reported in Dawn, dated April 20, 2008.
Pakistan’s literacy ratio still at 50pc: Unesco
By Bakhtawar Mian
ISLAMABAD, April 19: Literacy ratio in Pakistan still remains at 50 per cent, mainly because of small budgetary allocations, lack of political will and delays in disbursement of funds, according to the Unesco.
In the region, Pakistan has been ranked higher only than Nepal and Bangladesh, which have literacy rates of 49 and 43 per cent, respectively. Other countries have far better ratios: the Maldives, 96 per cent; Sri Lanka, 91 per cent; and India, 61 per cent.
Addressing a function organized by the Parliamentary Caucus on Literacy in Pakistan, Unesco’s representative Arshad Saeed Khan said there were about 55 million illiterate people in the country because of which the country risked failing to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
If corrective measures were not taken, the percentage of illiterates might even rise to 60 per cent of the population by 2010, he said.
Sindh has the highest percentage in education which stands at 54 per cent followed by Punjab (52 per cent) and the NWFP (40 per cent). Balochistan has the lowest ratio – 33 per cent.
The Unesco attributed the low level of literacy rate to factors like weak organizational infrastructure, low professional capacity, lack of research, non-availability of proper training institutes, low public awareness and lack of evaluation and monitoring system.
“The state shall be responsible for eradication of illiteracy and provision of free and compulsory education up to secondary level, within minimum possible time,” says article 37-B of the 1973 constitution.
Mr Arshad Saeed said that 16 political parties – including the PPP, PML-N, ANP, JUI-F and BNP (Awami), BNP (Mengal), Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and National Party – had signed Education For All Declaration on February 5, 2008 in which they had pledged to increase education budget up to 4 per cent of GDP, at least 10 per cent of the education budget for literacy and non-formal education, free and compulsory primary education – achieving 100 per cent enrolment rate, 86 per cent adult literacy by 2015, eradicate political interference and favouritism in appointments, transfers of education staff and uniform core curriculum and similar facilities in all schools.
Unesco stressed the need for legislation for free secondary education as a fundamental right, increasing education budget to 4 per cent of GDP, ensuring equal opportunities for all children because Pakistan has ratified Unesco Convention Against Discrimination in Education.
From the above it is clear that our Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as regards our education and literacy are now at higher risk if we do not shake up ourselves from our present national lethargy. Failing to do so, we may be branded in time as the most illiterate nation in the world. Thus it is the political will that is needed at the present juncture. So let us be sincere to read (“IQRA”). The Good written WORD! And involve ourselves one and all in EFA, i.e. the Education for All.
Having said this, we also note with a measure of joy the highest literary rate claimed for Sindh in the above report, among all federation units of Pakistan. But it is perhaps due to Karachi and other big cities in Sindh where combined literacy rate in these cities stands around 60%. The 40% Population living in katchi abadies and in the rural areas is still stark illiterate. Going by population formula, Karachi and the 3 other major urban cities viz. Hyderabad, Nawabshah & Sukkur compose 10 million literate, what about the rest of rural population of Sindh which is made up of 30 million including those living in katchi abadies and rural areas where literacy is at most 5%. So when we tally or balance the figures the overall situation of literacy in Sindh comes to 18.75% say 18%, 3 times lower than 54% what is said in the above report. That is the miracle of our bureaucrats of Pakistan. They are masters of figure fudging. They inflate or deflate these figures at will. As to poverty, one day they say it is 33% in Pakistan and next day 23%. Similarly all statistics of literacy are the legerdeomain at their hands: they enhance them without giving thought to the facts. The world knows that literacy and poverty are interrelated. If one increases other decreases. They are inversely proportional to each other. If they were to attend specifically to rural areas and katchi abadies of Sindh, they will find that 95% of the masses are illiterate. So we would ask his Excellency the Chief of UNESCO kindly to instruct his subordinate organizations of UN not to blind-foldedly follow figures supplied to them by our bureaucrats but go themselves to rural areas and katchi abadies and unregistered villages of Pakistan to conduct surveys on literacy i.e. the state of 3Rs, themselves. They will wonder to find that illiteracy and poverty are exactly the same, not 1% less, not 1% more! The illiteracy and poverty are one monster with two faces, those of ignorance and of indigence.
The factual state of education & literacy in Rural Sindh and its Katchi Abadies:
According to 1973 constitution of Pakistan, “The state shall be responsible for eradication of illiteracy and provision of free and compulsory education up to secondary level within a given minimum possible time” that goes on getting extended in time. About the functioning of the Primary schools, particularly the Sindhi medium ones, the less said the better. The life of many exists on paper but has no trace on ground. And what to tell of corruption in education all over Sindh from primary through elementary to secondary! There is no further room left for more of it.
Now the factual State of Poverty in Rural Sindh:
The quasi divide created by political interests between urban and rural Sindh presents the horrible look. Wherever you turn your eyes to see. If you will only come to Thatta from Karachi, after Ghagar Phatak (20 kms distance from Quaidabad) you will see indigenous people living in medieval ages. They residing in straw and indifferent abodes, their women old pitchers on their heads going by foot for miles in to get drinking water. All of them clothed in rags and barefeet. Their children and old people going to Karachi or to other towns TO BEG! One is ashamed seeing such differences created by this divide. On one side there is abundance and affluence only 20 kms away from the phatak and on the other indigence and poverty at its shamefulness. This state of poverty is more or less same in all rural areas of Sindh.
Now the lay-out of the PLAN to achieve 100% primary education and 50% Adult literacy within 5 years, affording access to Elementary education and near full adult literacy in rural areas and katchi abadies of Sindh, by 2015. And Measures to be taken under the direction, supervision and financial support of the present Government of Sindh to fight the two-face monster, poverty and ignorance, in one go:
Pre Primary, primary, elementary and secondary education:
The education be made compulsory and free from pre-primary to secondary level, and Government bear all educational expenditures of poor children of rural areas and katchi abadies in Sindh.
As incentive to bring all children up to 18 years under the cover of school education, to give stipend of Rs: 100/month/child of 3-5 ages, for preprimary education. Rs: 300/child/month of 6-10 years for attending primary education. Rs: 400/month/child of 11-14 years for continuing elementary education, and Rs: 500/month/child of 15-18 years for getting secondary education.
Government to provide premises for primary schools at every village and settlement at most 2 furlongs from it. The premises may even be of improvised material.
The schools for elementary and secondary education will be provided by Government for every 5000 and 10,000 populations respectively in every rural area.
The posts for recruiting teachers and staff for schools shall be immediately advertised and jobless educated youth appointed after due procedure on merit.
The education to be quality education, the teachers shall be given a six months training to start with by trained teachers (primary, middle, secondary and higher secondary) to be made free for the purpose of the six – month training of freshly appointed teachers.
It will be compulsory too for all adults from 19 to any highest age the learner is desirous to enroll for it.
Each learner will be given Rs: 200/month as stipend (males and women both).
The literacy centres will be run in the same premises as for primary, elementary or secondary schools in evening time by the same teacher as posted in these schools with increased allowances.
The duration of these literacy centres will be 2 hours daily.
For males & females there shall be separate classes.
This type of education will be non formal and shall be each time for 2 months and executed through NGOs/CBOs. Separate syllabus shall be prepared for this type of education.
In all adult literacy centres, provisions for skill-training in local crafts be made for men and women entrants, who will be given micro-credits to pursue their skills as life profession to their choice.
Both those compulsory education programs, one for all children and adolescents up to 18 and the other for the literate adults from 19 years and above shall involve nearly all of rural areas and katchi abadies population. And if carried out through 5 years shall make us nearer to MDGs goals of 2015 and bring whole population of rural Sindh and its katchi Abadies at par with urban Sindh in eliminating the divide and promoting their progress as one people.
How to implement and administer both the program:
Both the programs primary through elementary to secondary and adult literacy be given directly with all their infrastructures, administrations, and staff to District Committee for implementation, each to be designated the District Basic Education and Poverty Alleviation Committee and be constituted from local education and literacy officers / Local Government representative / one umbrella NGO each – reputed for educational work in the district.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
There will also be a separate committee of local literary men and women and educationists of district to report directly to education minister on progress of the programs. Evaluation as to expenses be done by Auditors every 3 months sent by Education Minister.
Under the two programs, if started in like earnest and without losing any time, and carried out diligently, some 20 million adults, mainly daily wage earners and landless share croppers will be made literate in addition to almost equal number of the 5 years’ newborns of Sindh will have covered their 5 years primary education, literally amounting to reach the full literacy in Sindh approximately touching thus the MDGs goals by 2015.
It is to be understood that both of these programmes shall be conducted in and for the mother tongue – with Sindhi and Urdu to be introduced from class III respectively for Urdu and Sindhi children upto class V, and English is to be taught as a foreign language from class VI onwards.
It is also to be understood that the present Government of Sindh shall own up the subject of Education solely as the provincial subject at least upto higher secondary stage i.e. class XII in the first instance.
It is also to be remembered that nothing worthwhile in matter of Education as in any other sphere of development can be achieved in provinces without full measure of genuine political and fiscal autonomy.