Saturday, September 09, 2006
100% literacy drive launched: School year to be increased from 170 to 210 days: minister
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Education Lt-General (r) Javed Ashraf Qazi on Friday launched the Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“100 percent enrollment for literacyĂ˘â‚¬Âť campaign and announced several new steps aimed at improving the standard of education.
The minister filled up an enrollment form of a student at the FG BoysĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ Secondary School in Jhang Sayedan to kick off the campaign which also coincided with the International Literacy Day.
He said that the number of education days in a year was to be enhanced from 170 to 210 and examination papers were to be marked only during vacations. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“We still have far too many holidays in a calendar year,Ă˘â‚¬Âť he remarked.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Illiteracy should not be the fate of our children and I do no want to see any illiterate child in your village,Ă˘â‚¬Âť he told the elders of the village located on the outskirts of Islamabad.
As part of efforts to improve education in a country of 15 million illiterate people, Qazi said that from next year the medium of instruction would become dual (English and Urdu) from Class I onwards. Stressing that education should be result oriented, he said that science and mathematics would be taught only in English while all other subjects would be in Urdu.
From next year, the choice allowed in answering examination papers will be cut down to 30 percent with only three grace marks to be given instead of 11 currently permissible. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I wouldnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t be too concerned if these measures bring down the overall percentage of results,Ă˘â‚¬Âť he said. Other steps to be undertaken include making physical education and games compulsory and the subject of Islamiyat being taught from Class III onwards instead of Class IV. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“We also intend to have students complete the reading of the Holy Quran.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
The new curriculum has been dispatched to all the provinces and there has been a positive feedback, the minister said. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Even NWFP has praised our Islamiyat curriculum.Ă˘â‚¬Âť Qazi outlined plans to make Islamabad a model education city and said that there were 32 government schools in the territory that did not have all the required facilities. He stressed the need for creating technical education institutions pointing out that there was a lot of demand in the job market for people with technical skills.
Pakistan had one of the lowest literacy rates in the world with 44 percent, the minister said.
He felt that it was the misplaced priorities of previous governments that had neglected education. He told the teachers that efforts were under way to increase their salaries and ensure a better status for them. But he warned against indulging in politics. He also announced establishment of a girls and boys college in the area.
The minister gave away free schoolbags and textbooks to students. The government is currently providing books free of cost to students from Class I to VIII but from next year this facility will be extended to Class X. Jorge Sequeira, the UNESCO director and representative in Islamabad, said that literacy was important in its own right but it was also widely acknowledged as one of the most powerful tools of development.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“It is imperative that acquiring literacy skills is done in context-sensitive ways, especially in terms of identity, culture and vocation; in order to have an enduring impact, literacy needs to be nurtured and supported through the availability of books, newspapers, magazines, computers and other forms of written communication.