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PAKISTAN: Gap widens in male, female literacy rate [REPORT]

Although women's education witnessed a major improvement in the 1990s, still Pakistan is considered to have a largest gender gap in literacy ratio. The Pakistan Education and School Atlas, which was published recently for the first time having maps and graphics of all the schools in the country, has shown male literacy at 60 per cent and female at 36 per cent. It said there was a sharp progress of education among women with the literacy rate rising from 16 per cent in 1980 to 21 per cent in 1990 and jumping to 33 per cent in 1997. In the 1990s, an emphasis on female education pushed the literacy rate up by 1.5 per year. According to the atlas, the total number of schools in the country is 182,636; 149,280 in the public and 33,356 in the private sector. There are 142,308 primary schools, out of which 127,709 are in the public and 14,599 in the private sector. The number of middle schools is 25,461 - 12,984 government and 12,477 in the private sector. The number of higher and secondary schools is 14,867, out of which 8,587 are in the public and 6,280 in the private sector.The total enrolment is stated to be 21,897,961 - 16,086,902 in the public and 5,811,059 in the private sector. As many as 14,124,819 enrolment are in the primary level, 3,409,704 in the middle and 4,363,438 in high and higher secondary school levels. In 1947, the country was faced with overwhelming problems in education. But it not only maintained the inherited institutions but also significantly expanded the education sector by establishing new schools, colleges and universities. At the time of independence, there were about 8,413 primary schools and 17,800 primary schoolteachers. However, in 1998, the number of primary schools increased to 163,746 with 374,500 primary teachers. Despite the increase, the education services still remain inequitably distributed among income groups, urban, rural regions, male female. Less than one million students were enrolled in schools in 1947. In 1998, more than 15 million school-age children were enrolled only at the primary level and eight million children were out of schools in 2001. Participation rate was 84 per cent. Though the literacy rate has increased from 16.4 per cent in 1951 to 49.51 per cent (estimated) in 2001, still 48.8 million people remained illiterate. Though the overall literacy rate is just about 50 per cent, there are some sharp dividing lines that mask pockets of strengths and great ignorance. Another dividing line is between urban city dwellers and rural villagers. Urban literacy jumped from 47 per cent in 1981 to 65 per cent in 1997.Rural literacy has risen from 17 per cent to 34 per cent in the same period and even in 2001 remained below the urban rate of two decades ago. USAID to provide 0m for education: envoy The US Ambassador, Nancy Powell, has said the USAID will provide 0 million during the next five years to support education programmes in Pakistan. She was speaking at the launching ceremony of the annual report by the Society for the Protection of Rights of Child (SPARC) on child labour titled "The State of Pakistan's Children 2002" along with its visual documentary. "The US government is assisting Pakistan in eliminating child labour and developing multiple strategies to tackle the situation," she said. She said the US Department of Labour has committed million over several years in Pakistan for projects aimed at improving core labour standards and increasing economic opportunities. In fiscal year 2002, the US committed million to combat child labour and .5 million for workforce education and skills training in the NWFP. The ambassador said the United States is the largest supporter of International Labour Organisation and has committed million to support its programme in Pakistan. She said through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2002, the US made it a priority to help governments protect victims of trafficking, prosecute the criminal network and prevent trafficking. Govt to spend 21 billion on education The position holders in Lahore Board Secondary School Examination 2003 results were honoured at a reception chaired by Punjab Chief Minister, Ch. Pervez Elahi at 90 Sharah-e-Quaid-i-Azam. The reception was attended by Punjab Education Minister Imran Masood, Secretary Education Khushnood Lashari, teachers, parents and provincial legislators. The Chief minister conferred gold medals, cash prizes and computers to the position holders and announced a cash grant of Rs. 2 lakh each to the schools of position holders. He also announced free education to all of them. Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that Punjab Government will spend an unprecedented amount of Rs 7 billion yearly and a total sum of Rs 21 billion in three years time to provide missing facilities in public sector educational institutions. He said the all time high allocation would be seen to be implemented. A visible change should be felt on the ground through a foolproof system of monitoring and evaluation, he added. There would be no 'tat' in schools. They should be furnished with furniture so as to provide a sense of pride among the poor students. The scholarships to students would also be increased to the extent of 30 per cent, provision of free textbooks etc and a check to the drop out. The teachers, being an important component of education would be given incentive and necessary training under the teachers' incentive program. To give them respect in the society, they would be empowered by involving them in decision making. The Chief Minister said the government has worked out requirements of each district in the education sector and to provide missing facilities there. He said the Punjab Government has set an example of revamping the education sector and it would surely produce encouraging results. Already, the decison of free education upto the secondary school level have born fruits. [FACE Newsletter]

Posted on 2003-07-30

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