To remind people of the world the importance of literacy, World Literacy Day is observed by Thar Education Alliance (TEA) with the collaboration of National Commission for Human Rights (NCHD) and the District Education Department, Government of Sindh, on September 8. Literacy helps people live with dignity and makes them self-sufficient.
This year, Literacy Day assumes even more significance amid the COVID-19 crisis. The mode and focus of learning have changed as virtual classrooms replaced the usual ones and online interactions took the place of face to face discussions. Literacy missions across the world have suffered a setback as reaching out to millions of children in poorer countries has become tough online, say experts. International Literacy Day is a United Nations designated day.
As Federal Educational Ministry has announced to reopen all the close schools in different phases from 15th September high schools, colleges, and universities will be re-open. They have also shared guidelines for precautionary measures to be followed by students and school staff on the theme of ‘Reopening of Schools; Challenges and Way Forward’ TEA invited educationalist, District Education Officers, District Officer Literacy Tharparkar, and District Manager National Commission for Human Rights conducted a live session.
The plenary discussion highlighted key opportunities and bottlenecks in education systems, including enrollment, academic year planning, retention policy, the strategies to cover the syllabus in a very short period, and more.
Speaking on the occasion, District Education Officer (DEO) Secondary Ghulam Nabi Sahar said that the Education Department Officials and teachers are preparing to re-open the schools following the SOPs issued by Sindh Education Department. It is a dire need to do the combined efforts to combat this disaster. Humans cannot do any progress without education and that nation of the world have achieved new heights of development and progress because of their education systems.
Access to education has always been a problem in Pakistan. According to UNICEF, Out of 70 million, 22.8 million children are out of school. And now, the coronavirus outbreak has exposed its inadequate education system and technological inequities in this sector. On the other hand, over 50 million school and university-going Pakistanis are now falling behind. ‘We will strictly direct headteachers to implement the SOPs in their schools.’ He added.
District General Manager, NCHD, Ashok Majrooh emphasized that Student access, retention, and success are major issues for higher education, the world over, although to different degrees depending on national and regional contexts. Their importance is reflected in burgeoning initiatives to lower drop-out rates and boost student success that is increasingly supported by policies, research, resources, and evolving technologies.
Though it is not easy to implement the SOPs in a massive crowd or school, school administrative don’t have many resources to follow every single given instruction by Government to reopen the school but with the help of parents, local community, social organizations it is possible. Along with sharing the plan and schedule of studies by teachers they must engage the volunteers to spread awareness about COVID and its impacts with the people.
District Literacy Officer, Faqir Sultan said that Tharparkar is an arid zone area, due to the heavy spell of rain there are some positive vibes regarding new admission and retention are coming from the parents as they are now out of drought-hit conditions, otherwise, they used to engage their kids in fieldwork to eradicate the poverty.
Deputy District Education Officer (DEO) Primary Prem Kumar shared that primary schools are packed like sardines, a single teacher deals with the whole class, the ratio of students is in hundred in a room so it is challenging but as it is instructed to follow the SOPs while opening the schools from 28th will try to put possible efforts with the support of parents to ensure safety. Re-opening educational facilities will take place in phases. Ensuring effective infection prevention and control measures have been essential for all.
A representative of TEA, Sanjay Mathrani said that TEA has always played a vital role to spread the interrogative data, and information to make the people more aware, in this pandemic they oriented digitally more than hundreds of volunteer and also engaged them with different online courses. They also promise to work toward amplifying the need for a higher literacy rate.