The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, has given a donation of $160 million to the International Rescue Committee, or IRC, in order to fund and launch the Pakistan Reading Project. The Pakistan Reading Project will be a large program focused on education and childhood literacy rates, since Pakistan has some of the highest child illiteracy rates in the entire world. The International Rescue Committee will be working with its partner organizations in order to implement their program in 38,000 schools across the country, and to increase the skills of nearly 100,000 teachers in the art of reading instruction.
The International Rescue Committee is an organization that helps with humanitarian crises around the globe, by giving aid to those struggling to survive, and to help them rebuild their lives despite tragedy and disaster. It was originally founded in 1933 after it was suggested by Albert Einstein. The primary focus of the International Rescue Committee is to help refugees that are fleeing from war, or any other disaster that occurred in their homes. As of today, the International Rescue committee helps more than 40 countries, including the United States and Pakistan. Whenever the organization is needed for a disaster, they have promised to arrive on-scene within 3 days with supplies and knowledge that can help the people in the middle of a chaotic situation. They have pledged to remain in the disaster zones for as long as necessary, in order to rebuild communities and lives. The most important factor, however, is to create lasting solutions for individuals and the larger area.
Work in Pakistan by the International Rescue Committee has occurred since 1980. Right now, the International Rescue Committee is focusing on helping with horrible floods in Pakistan that are the worst in the country’s history. They help through rebuilding important things like homes and schools, as well as roads and infrastructure. Plus, they have a commitment to give the affected people health care and sanitation facilities. Of course, the most recent news about the International Rescue Committee in Pakistan is the newly-implemented Pakistan Reading Project, which is more than just emergency relief; it is a program that can create lasting change across the entire country through education.
According to the senior vice president of the International Rescue Committee’s programs, John Keys, the Pakistan Reading Project signifies a commitment to reach 3.2 million children with reading programs, and to make sure at least 2.5 million of the children will read at grade-level. Keys also mentioned that the children will carry the reading skills learned in the programs into their future education as well as adulthood. He ends his statement with, “[These children] are the future of Pakistan.” Certainly, children are the future, and education is one of the best ways to ensure a positive future.
Unfortunately, as of today, there are 47 million illiterate adults living in Pakistan. However, this statistic is not being seen by the International Rescue Project as a tragedy, but as a challenge. They do not wish to prevent the illiteracy rates from continuing to increase; rather, they wish to reduce the high rates of illiteracy. The International Rescue Project will ensure their success by working with provincial and local governments of Pakistan in order to create high quality literacy instruction in primary schools in Pakistan. There will be a particular focus on rural communities.
The Pakistan Reading Project will be located across Pakistan, including the cities of Islamabad, Peshawar, Punjab, Sindh, and more. The Pakistan Reading Project with gain its success throughout a combination of educating teachers in skills of instruction and professionalism, systems reforms, and engagement in civil society. Overall, the Pakistan Reading Project will surely be a success, and will help to combat the rising illiteracy levels within Pakistan.
- Corina Balsamo