ISLAMABAD - The United States and Pakistan launched the Pakistan Reading Project Thursday, marking the beginning of a five-year, $160 million investment in reading education in Pakistan.
Funded through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the project will improve the reading skills of 3.2 million children across Pakistan, build the capacity of 94,000 primary school teachers, and provide over 6,000 scholarships to train aspiring teachers.
US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G. Olson, US Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine Russell, and State Minister for Education, Training, and Standards in Higher Education Baligh-ur-Rehman addressed teachers and parents at the Islamabad Model Secondary School for Girls, Chak Shahzad and then met with schoolchildren.
Ambassador Olson said, "The Pakistan Reading Project is an opportunity to improve the reading skills of millions of Pakistani children. ...We hope this project will reinforce a national culture of reading - in classrooms, communities, and homes." The US ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine M. Russell said, "The United States has invested in girls' education because we know it is one of the most effective development investments for a girl's future employment."
The Pakistan Reading Project will reach students in 67 districts and will help ensure high quality literacy instruction at the primary school level. The project will also provide teacher-training opportunities by expanding the number of colleges and universities offering specialised bachelors and associate degrees in education that focus on reading.
The Pakistan Reading Project is one part of a comprehensive education program that the United States implements in Pakistan in partnership with the government of Pakistan. This program includes building or rehabilitating more than 850 schools; establishing centres for advanced education studies at three Pakistani universities; expanding English skills for more than 5,000 low-income students; and awarding more than 4,800 scholarships for university students to pursue education through the Pakistan-USAID Merit and Needs Based scholarship Programme.
Pakistan is passing through difficult times, many children are out of schools but with coordination of world community we shall meet this challenge, said Minister of State for Education and Interior, Engineer Muhammad Baligh-Ur-Rehman.
'The primary school enrolment rate is only 66 percent and 7.2 million primary school age children are still out of school. We are hopeful that Pakistan Reading Project a five year commitment of the United States Government will assist our government's efforts to improve the prevailing situation by reaching out to 4 million primary school children and providing them with the opportunity to enhance their reading skills the project will also built the capacity of the teachers which is very important' he added.