LAHORE -  The World Literacy Day will be marked worldwide on Friday (today).

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, “Literacy is defined as the ability of a person to read and write a simple letter with understanding in any language.”

Article 37(b) and (c) of the 1973 Constitution state, “The state shall remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within the minimum period; make technical and professional education generally available and higher education equally accessible by all on the basis of merit. Article 25(a) states the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen year in such a manner as may be determined by the law.

According to the National Plan of Action – 2013 to 2018, the Federal Ministry for Education and Professional Training published a five-year national plan of action to reform education in 2013. One of the commitments included in the plan was for the state to ensure a 50 percent improvement in literacy levels in two years.

The political commitments outlined in the election manifesto of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz call for initiation of a roadmap to achieve 80% universal literacy in consultation with provinces. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf says it will focus on illiterate adults in the 15-30 age brackets and invest resources to provide functional literacy to them. Pakistan People’s Party says it will raise adult literacy from current 54 percent to 85 percent. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement says that it will introduce an evaluation system through Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to be monitored by the Community Management Boards at taluka/tehsil and district level to sustain the growth of literacy and standard of education. Jamaat-e-Islami says it will ensure 100 percent literacy in 5 years.

The current literacy rate of the population (aged 10 years and above) remains at 58%. Literacy remains much higher in urban areas (74 percent) than in rural areas (49 percent). Punjab has the highest literacy rate at 62% followed by Sindh at 55%. The literacy rate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is 53% whereas Balochistan has an alarmingly low literacy rate of 41%. Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi are amongst the cities with the highest literacy rates in Pakistan whereas Dera Bugti, Torh Garh and Kila Abdullah are at the bottom of the table.

CM’s message

Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad  Shehbaz Sharif Thursday said no human being could attain  socio-economic progress without education.

“No nation in the world can attain development and prosperity without the support of education and it is the foremost right of every child which deserves tremendous attention. Education is such an important inheritance which is not limited to any body but is the fundamental right of everyone. It is important to work on emergency basis for bringing improvements in the quality of education,” he added.

In his message on International Literacy Day, the chief minister said the role of an educated person helped in molding the overall character of the society as the nations excel due to the power of education and attain a notable position in the comity of nations. He said the Pakistan Muslim League-N government was giving bright future to children through promoting education as the education sector was the development-base of any nation.

He said education was the only mean of dealing with challenges like poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.  The teachers should give education to their students as if students were their own children and their character building should also be fully taken care of.

“I would appeal to parents to give attention to education of their children and make them the best architects for nation-building,” he said and added solid steps had been taken to ensure for education in the province and composite policy had been devised so that the education sector could effectively deal with the contemporary challenges.  Citing different steps for the promotion of education sector, he said merit based appointments of teachers, the Zawar-e-Taleem Program and initiatives like teachers’ training were important steps along with up-gradation and increase in the number of schools and colleges and enhancement in science and computer laboratories. 

He said, special attention had been given to improve the quality of education. “This day requires that departments concerned should proactively work to help increase the literacy ratio and we should also make a pledge to help enhance the literacy ratio,” concluded the chief minister.