- Literacy is a right in itself and an instrument for achieving other rights
Literacy and numeracy skills are critical to economic development of a country as well as individual and community well-being. It is important to spread these skills by helping people of all ages to read and write effectively or acquire basic skills in mathematics. Early literacy and numeracy skills are the roots of career success — and it is never too early to plant these seeds. Improvement in these skills can contribute to economic growth, reduction of poverty and crime, promotion of democracy, increase in civic engagement, prevention of diseases through useful information, and enhancement of cultural diversity through literacy programmes in diverse languages.
The literacy rate is very low in Pakistan. It has declined from 60 percent to 58 percent, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan. There are multiple factors behind this. The most important is the lack of government funding for educational institutions. In 2017-18, the government budget allocated for education was Rs902.7 billion, which was rather low for Pakistan — a country of over 200 million people, half of whom are not above 35.
Other than this, the low income level in Pakistan is an important factor that contributes to low literacy rates. The feudal system is also a major player in Pakistani society which greatly influences the literacy rate.
In Pakistan’s context, literacy is defined as the ability to read and understand simple text in any language from a newspaper or magazine and write a simple letter whereas numeracy skills refer to the ability to perform basic mathematical calculations (i.e. counting and addition/subtraction). Even under this definition, literacy and numeracy skills in Pakistan, both for the young and adults, need to be more widespread as these are important factors that would accelerate the country’s development.
Literacy is a right in itself and an instrument for achieving other rights. There are many broad benefits that result from literacy, in human, economic, social and cultural terms. Since literacy is a key outcome of education, it is difficult to separate the right to literacy from the right to education or the benefits of literacy from those of education.
It is for this reason that in a global environment where the culture of reading is diminishing, many publishers like Oxford University Press have succeeded in attracting more and more people towards the habit of reading and this is particularly pertinent in Pakistan’s context
There is a strong belief among various quality publishers in Pakistan that the more children are able to read, the better would be their educational outcomes. Developing comprehension, language and literacy skills at the primary level can develop an enthusiasm for reading and writing, shape future educational success, and ignite a lifelong love of learning, and thereby lead to national development. By publishing for all audiences—from pre-school to secondary level school children, students to academics, general readers to researchers, and individuals to institutions, these publishers serve the need to promote literacy from the basic to the highest level of education.
Quality textbook publishing in Pakistan means that well-researched content is written in the local cultural context and resonates well with Pakistani students. These textbooks fulfill the country’s vision of spreading education, meeting the learning needs of students, and raising educational standards.
It is for this reason that in a global environment where the culture of reading is diminishing, many publishers like Oxford University Press have succeeded in attracting more and more people towards the habit of reading and this is particularly pertinent in Pakistan’s context. These publishers consider it as a part of their responsibility to affect change by enhancing the national level of literacy. Their mission is to spread literacy by providing better quality books and ensuring that these books are reasonably priced and readily available.
It is through the high standards of quality and production laid down by these publishers that they are promoting the mission to spread literacy in Pakistan. There is no doubt that education plays a vital role in the progress and development of a country. Pakistan’s leading publishers realise this and are making all efforts at their end to play a positive role in promoting and improving the future of Pakistan’s educational system by spreading literacy and numeracy skills through quality books and the digital media.