MULTAN: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded the International Rescue Committee (IRC) $160 million to implement the Pakistan Reading Project – an extensive education programme aimed at tackling one of the highest child illiteracy rates in the world, said a press release issued on Saturday.
The IRC and its 10 partner organisations will work to improve the quality of reading education in 38,000 schools and advance and develop the reading instruction skills of 94,000 teachers.
John Keys, the IRC International programmes’ senior vice president, said that the launch of the project represented “a long-term commitment from the IRC and the USAID to reach 3.2 million children with improved reading programmes. He said the project would ensure that 2.5 million of these would start reading at grade-level.
“We anticipate that these boys and girls will carry these skills with them into secondary and tertiary education, and then into adulthood. They are the future of Pakistan,” he said.
According to a study by the Brookings Institution in 2010, Pakistan was one of the few countries where illiteracy rates were increasing. The study found that there were 47 million illiterate adults in the country and the number was likely to go up to 50 million by 2015.
According to government statistics, Pakistan’s primary school enrollment rate is 66 per cent and 7.2 million primary school age children are not in school.
The IRC and its partners will be working with Pakistan’s provincial and local governments to provide the highest quality literacy instruction in primary schools across the country. It would focus on undeserved rural communities where access to elementary education is limited.
John Shumaker, a career global educator, who would be overseeing the IRC project, said that the foundation of a high-performing education system was primary school.
“If we make an impact there for children in Pakistan, the benefits will be profound and long term,” he added