LAHORE:THE concept of â€˜each one, teach oneâ€™ needs to be adopted and promoted on an immediate basis to achieve internationally committed targets of literacy in the country.
Apart from international commitments, the promotion of literacy should be more important to us, keeping in view ever-growing social challenges, including extremism and intolerance. Much has been said in this regard over the years but unfortunately all such slogans proved empty rhetoric as 60 million Pakistanis out of total estimated population of 180 million are still illiterate.
Interestingly, the definition of a literate person is quite simple in our part of the world than many developed and developing countries. Pakistan has a literacy rate of 56 percent which also include those individuals who can read and write a simple letter.
In April 2000, participants from 164 countries gathered in Dakar, Senegal, for the World Education Forum and affirmed their commitment to achieving the Education for All (EFA) goals by the year 2015. These education goals included expanding early childhood care and education, providing free and compulsory primary education for all, promoting learning and life skills for young people and adults, increasing adult literacy by 50 percent, achieving gender parity by 2005 and gender equality by 2015 and improving quality of education.
Unfortunately, Pakistan has already been placed in a group of countries, which are far from achieving the EFA goals by 2015.
Nevertheless, the prevailing unrest in the country, especially in various parts of the NWFP and Balochistan, has been further jeopardising the prospects of achieving these targets. The earthquake in 2005 and now the recent floods undoubtedly have hampered the efforts for promotion of literacy in the affected parts of the country. The situation is quite alarming. However, those at the helm are still taking no heed of the deteriorating situation and not enough is being done to eliminate and even control the menace of illiteracy. The role expected from the community members is also not as encouraging as it should be vis-â€¡-vis the efforts to promote the cause of literacy and achieving the targets. Apart from the lack of commitment and political will, the meagre budgetary support from the government has been a major challenge too.
Missing the internationally committed EFA goals will invite international condemnation as well. Therefore, the need of a robust plan of action is highlighted time and again to avail every available opportunity.
Academic circles strongly suggest mobilization and practical involvement of college and university students in literacy campaigns. They advocate that the best utilization of annual summer vacation of over two months should be ensured by involving the youth to adopt the concept of â€˜each one, teach oneâ€™.
They also suggest especially designed courses to achieve the target of making an illiterate person a literate in the minimum possible time. Academicians also suggest making the same exercise a mandatory requirement for students before award of a degree. They believe the efforts of the students should be reciprocated by recognizing their input and awarding special marks to them.
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