How to improve literacy rate through an impactful way in Lahore
The best way to overcome poverty is to improve the education system. Literacy is the most alarming issue globally. Many children do not go to school. Hence, they do not know how to read and write. The literacy rate all over the world for all males is 90.0% and for all females is about 82.7%.
This is a serious issue in Pakistan also. As per reports, 22.6 million children between 5 and 16 years old do not go to school in Pakistan.
Literacy and education in Pakistan
The constitution of Pakistan grants the right of education to all children aged between 5-16 years. Article 25 of the constitution states that: “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manners as may be determined by law.”
There are plenty of reasons behind the lack of education; one of the most pressing reasons is poverty. Poverty not only affects the education of children but it endangers the survival of a family. It often means that due to child labor, a child works to feed his family that’s why he is not able to go to school.
The other reason is that sometimes the poorest communities are neglected by UN agencies and NGOs to deal with child literacy. Besides, most families are not formally registered in the country.
The importance and power of literacy
I am familiar with many projects in Pakistan in the developmental sector. Particularly, in the child welfare sector, projects advocating for the rights of young people and education. I have seen non-formal education has a greater impact on the communities that do not accept education. But it can also be the second-best option to formal education and can be the best way to overcome education.
New Day School
New day school is located in the slums of Lahore. There are nearly 1,300 camps made up of transitory shelters. Around 300,000 people across Lahore are living in these slums. Every house in the camp is made up of cotton sheets, corrugated metal, and bamboo sticks.
There is a lack of facilities of clean water, electricity and the entire family sleeps in one room. There is no facilitated management system of waste. It creates a hard-living environment and increases the risk of diseases. I was shocked when I saw the poor living condition of people and a lot of poverty. Dirty streams and waste were just centimeters away from the schools.
Approximately 155 children from 1 to 18 years old are given non-formal basic education. Children go to school on daily basis without any restrictions. Children are trained in the best possible way to learn the basic concept of writing, reading, speaking, and listening.
I saw children were not able to write their name before they enroll themselves in this school. Now, they are able to write and read their own names which is phenomenal progress. With these initiatives, we would be able to eliminate illiteracy from our community.
Going beyond literacy and impact
This program helps children to get formally registered in the country. It was so surprising that the birth of many children was not officially registered, which means they do not actually exist. The right to identity is a fundamental human right but many children across Pakistan are deprived of this right. This has a huge impact on their healthcare, education, employment, voting, and later in life.
About 155 children have been registered and given an official birth certificate. This is a fruitful step in their lives that will help them in their formal education, access to health, employment and will make them confident to choose their future goals.
I felt a great inspiration as I walked away from the slums of Lahore, that how such initiative can make such a massive difference.
(Written by freelance journalist Sadaf Riaz)