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National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) and UNESCO organized a round table conference on Literacy in Islamabad on March 9, 2011, involving the international donor agencies, provincial education and literacy secretaries, board members of NCHD and Pakistan Human Development Fund (PHDF). Aim of the conference was to generate support for literacy and non-formal basic education in the country.

NCHD, in capacity of the lead agency for literacy in Pakistan, has planned to hold a Donors’ Conference next month with the purpose of improving the structure for implementation of literacy and non formal education programs, institutionalize the subject for improved service delivery in-depth research and development, and encourage contribution and support of private sector and international donor agencies. The round table conference was a step toward that direction in order to prepare the stakeholders for a better response.

Speaking at the occasion, Chairperson NCHD Dr. Nafisa Shah highlighted the role of NCHD and said that NCHD can assist with its huge literacy database on different core indicators of literacy and non-formal education at the national, provincial, district, tehsil, and union council levels.

Dr. Nafisa Shah said that the role of NCHD in post 18th Amendment scenario shall be to hold programs and interventions as incubators in the Federal territories including FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK and Islamabad. In addition to this, NCHD shall also have provincial setups in the form of Provincial Commissions as implementing bodies for provincial programs on education, literacy and healthcare with their linkage with NCHD Head Office to benefit mutually and ensure introduction of additional successful innovations. She also highlighted the role of districts as the hub of all types of development activities.

Chairman PHDF Mr. Farrokh K. Captain in his opening remarks urged that all factors be taken into account while developing strategies, keeping in view the ever increasing population, lack of community and civil society participation, inadequacy of literacy programs and non-availability of teaching-learning material, law and order situation and extremism in Pakistan.

UNESCO senior education specialist Mr. Arshad Saeed Khan said that Pakistan was far behind the targets set by Education For All (EFA) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He also presented a grim picture of girl’s education and said that 55 percent of the women in the country cannot read and write while 67 percent of rural women were illiterate.