Published On: Sat, Sep 9th, 2023
Published in Category: Quetta

Seminar held on International Literacy Day

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QUETTA: In a collaborative endeavor aimed at fostering literacy among the youth and adults of Balochistan province, the Education Parliamentarians Caucus (EPC) of the Senate of Pakistan, in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Directorate of Literacy & Non-Formal Education (NFE) under the Social Welfare Department of the Government of Balochistan, organized a groundbreaking seminar on International Literacy Day. This event took place at the Serena Hotel Quetta on September 8th, 2023.

Under the theme "Promoting Literacy for a World in Transition: Building the Foundation for Sustainable and Peaceful Societies," this seminar brought together key stakeholders and prominent figures committed to addressing the critical challenges of out-of-school children and low literacy rates in Balochistan. It is worth noting that the literacy rate for the population aged 10 and above in Balochistan stands at only 46%, with rural women in the province having a distressingly low literacy rate of 20%, lagging significantly behind other regions. Distinguished dignitaries, including the esteemed Guest of Honor, Governor Balochistan Mr. Abdul Wali Kakar, and Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly Jan Mohammad Jamali, graced the occasion with their presence.

Ms. Shania Khan, Advisor to the Chief Minister of Balochistan for Social Welfare and Women Development, warmly welcomed the guests and participants, acknowledging the commendable efforts of the EPC, the Secretary of Social Welfare, JICA, UNICEF, as well as organizations like Mercy Corps, Save the Children, IRC, Taraqee Foundation, Society, NCHD, BRSP, and other development partners for their invaluable cooperation in promoting literacy among children, youth, and adults. She also expressed gratitude for their support in organizing ILD 2023.

Subsequently, Mr. Qaisar Khan Jamali, the provincial coordinator of JICA, provided insights into the literacy statistics of Balochistan, particularly focusing on rural women and youth. He stressed the importance of prioritizing these demographics in youth and adult literacy programs. Following this, Mr. Imran Khan, Secretary of the Social Welfare Department, delivered a thoughtful presentation on the literacy crisis and outlined the department's strategic plans for addressing these issues in the coming years through collaboration with national and international partners.

The seminar also featured successful case studies of children who benefited from Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs), allowing them to exercise their fundamental right to education and learning.

The Balochistan NFE Strategic Plan, developed through a comprehensive consultative process, was officially launched by Governor Balochistan, Speaker of the Balochistan Provincial Assembly, and the senators present at the event. Copies of the NFE Strategic Plan and the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework were officially unveiled, accompanied by a brief presentation on the structure and essence of the plan by Mr. Sajjad Haider, the program specialist from JICA.

Senator Sana Jamali, the Convener of the Education Parliamentarians Caucus, delivered a passionate address underscoring the urgency of addressing the crisis of out-of-school children. With a staggering 23 million out-of-school children in Pakistan, the nation faces a dire educational challenge. Balochistan, in particular, bears a heavy burden, with 60% of its children deprived of basic education and a substantial low-literate population that struggles with reading and writing.

Senator Fawzia Arshad and Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt, esteemed guests at the seminar, echoed the need for collective action to promote education equity. They emphasized the pivotal role of legislation and policy advocacy in advancing education in Pakistan.

Senator Sana Jamali, Convener of the EPC, formally read aloud the declaration, pledging to uphold the ideals of the Constitution with a strong focus on addressing the educational needs of out-of-school children, promoting girls' education, and advancing literacy. The Education Parliamentarians Caucus Pakistan remains committed to empowering parliamentarians to effect change through legislative and non-legislative means. The caucus advocates for diligent parliamentary oversight, inclusivity, and equity in education policies and programs.

This collaboration transcends borders, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals related to education. The caucus seeks global alliances to promote education equity and address the needs of out-of-school children and girls, with a particular emphasis on effective teacher training programs.

Jan Mohammad Jamali, Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, emphasized the crucial need for creating a conducive educational environment in Balochistan, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by the region.

Governor Balochistan, Mr. Abdul Wali Kakar, underscored the collective responsibility of stakeholders in addressing the issue of out-of-school children and literacy. He emphasized the significance of girls' education and called for concerted efforts to ensure equitable access to education.

The seminar concluded with Governor Balochistan Mr. Abdul Wali Kakar presenting participation awards to the esteemed participants, recognizing their unwavering dedication to advancing education in Pakistan.

This seminar represents a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to promote education and literacy among youth and adults in Pakistan.