In Pakistan, access and quality of education is unsatisfactory. More than 50 million people aged above 10 years are illiterate while the literacy rate is 58 percent. Approximately 6.5 million children aged 1-5 years are out of school and 40 percent of students drop out before they reach grade 5. There is a gigantic gap of literacy between urban and rural areas and between boys and girls.

The Punjab government, keeping in view the critical state of primary education, in collaboration with United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has established a separate department for literacy and informal basic education to address the problems of drop out at primary level and meet the emerging demand for Non-formal education. To accomplish the target of 100% literacy rate and zero percent drop out in primary education in the province, the Punjab government, under the UJALA programme, distributed solar lamps among 200,000 students with a cost of 2.5 billion last year as load shedding can not disrupt their study. It provided Rs.2.40 billion for non-formal basic education to 2 million illiterate persons. Owing to these practical measures of Punjab government, the enrollment of students in government schools has been enhanced to 11.273 million. During the current fiscal year, laptops and solar lamps are being distributed among the students on merit.

All other provinces have to follow the policies of the Punjab government to improve access and quality of education, 100 percent enrollment of students and zero percent drop out in primary education. There is a need to equip our students at least with reading, writing and speaking skills according to national and international standards.

SHAIKH ABDUL RASHEED,

Sindh, March 15.