September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world. This year’s theme of “Literacy and health and in this regard several measures have been taken to enhance the importance of literacy in health awareness
Taking Pakistani stance where 60 percent of Pakistanis are still illiterate, and the government should initiate projects to enhance the literacy level by launching different plans, reiterated educationists and several non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives. International Literacy Day was celebrated today, and as per every year, educationists and NGOs arranged seminars to review the literacy situation in the country.
The recent census tallies in China and India show that Pakistan is far behind the two big Asian nations i.e China and India. China’s literacy rate is near 90% and India has reached 65%. As per PSLM Survey 2004-05, the literacy rate of population 10 years and above was 53% showing an annual growth ratio of 1.5% since 1998 Census. As such the estimated Literacy Rate comes to 56% in 2007. The total public spending on education (by federal, provincial and district government) comes to 2.21% of GDP during the year 2005-06.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for urgent action to promote literacy around the world, noting the implications of not being able to read on human health and efforts to access vital prevention, treatment and support services.
In his message for International Literacy Day, which is observed on 8 September, Mr. Ban notes that one in five adults – some 774 million – is illiterate, and thus lives with no access to the vast global store of written communication. In addition, 75 million children are not in school and millions more young people leave school without a level of literacy adequate for productive and active participation in society. “These would be devastating numbers at any time, for individuals and societies alike; that they occur in the context of today’s information society should drive home the urgency of efforts to promote literacy throughout the world,” he stresses.
According to theme it is important to note that Illiteracy has direct implications on health. Illiterate people remain unable to read the instructions on a medicine bottle. It means that people are less likely to know facts about AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases. Literacy is “indispensable” for addressing some of the world’s most important public health challenges and well-defined policies and increased investment to increase literacy skills in pakistan is needed.
Pakistan has a family system where women are responsible to look after their families thus illiterate women will be less likely to know about prevention and support services, and how to use life-saving medicines and other treatments. It is important to note that nearly ten million children die before reaching the age of five, most often of preventable infectious diseases, and it is children of the poor who are less likely to be treated for serious illness.
The head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adds that today’s gravest health concerns cannot be adequately addressed unless literacy finds a central place in public health policies and strategies. “An illiterate person is simply more vulnerable to ill-health, and less likely to seek medical help for themselves, their family or their community,” Director General Koichiro Matsuura says in his message to mark the Day.
Statistics for Pakistan Education
As per information gathered under National education Census 2005, out of total 76,047 private institutions, 73,018 institutions reported their expenditure for the year 2004-05, which comes to Rs. 35,914 million.
An amount of US $2191.155 is reported to have been provided by different donors via two different types of external assistance i.e. Multi-lateral Foreign Assistance that covers assistance from the Banks and UN Agencies and Bi-lateral Foreign Assistance. It comprises assistance from any country to Pakistan