Church leader calls for concerted efforts to improve literacy in Pakistan

LAHORE: A senior church leader has urged the government to focus on access to quality education in Pakistan, especially for the marginalized and vulnerable sections of society.

In his message on World Literacy Day, Church of Pakistan’s Moderator Bishop Dr Azad Marshall said Pakistan is currently facing two problems with respect to literacy.

“One is access to education due to a lack of educational infrastructure and the other is access in education because of a lack of quality education. While successive governments have addressed the access to education issue to some extent yet quality education remains limited to a specific segment of society only. Our middle and lower classes are deprived of access to and access in education in the true sense and this is where the government’s attention is needed the most,” he stated.

Bishop Marshall also said it was high time that we realise that illiterate and manual workers are no less intelligent than us. “Adversities that they face in early childhood and the experiences that they undergo make them more intelligent than us. Education is more of a social experience for them,” he said.

“We have educated more than 500,000 persons across Pakistan in 250 centres established by IBADAT [Institute for Basic Adult Training & Development] since 1989,” said Marshall, who is also the chairman of the IBADAT Trust.

“However, it is unfortunate that despite efforts of NGOs and other concerned stakeholders, Pakistan’s official literacy rate currently stands at a dismal 62.3 percent, which is one of the lowest rates in the world,” he added.

Reiterating his call for greater focus on education, the church leader also stressed on including the subject of climate change in educational institutions to raise awareness in the younger generation about the looming threats to Earth’s environment, particularly in the context of Pakistan.

“A disaster has hit us hard and more is expected in the coming years with far more intensity than what we are witnessing today. We need a science-orientated education that could give us the capacity to deal with natural calamities,” he said.

He added that a special primer on the effects of climate change and environmental protection was being devised for IBADAT courses to raise environmental awareness in students. He also announced a special award for IBADAT Executive Director Obaid Nasir and senior management for their efforts to promote literacy.

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