Pakistan Reading Project
Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Federal Education, spoke this month of the fundamental importance of reading, citing the first word taught in Quran, ‘Iqra’ which means ‘read.’ The minister’s statement came in response to an education workshop hosted by the Pakistan Reading Project and USAID.

The four-day workshop gathered educators from provincial groups across Pakistan to frame individual Reading Improvement Strategies (RIS) to be finalized and applied to their respective provinces as part of official educational programming. This workshop was just one of many that the Pakistan Reading Project has organized to provide support for provincial and regional departments of education throughout Pakistan. The primary focus is the enhancement reading instruction strategies for children in grades one and two. The $165 million, five-year project is, through such workshops as these, promoting the adaptation and implementation of sustainable policies to improve teaching and education standards.

The Pakistan Reading Project’s strategy is threefold: improve learning environments for reading in the classroom, advance policies and systems for reading instruction and rally community-based support for reading. In doing so, the project intends to reach 1.3 million students in grades one and two with reading interventions, not to mention training more than 23,000 teachers in reading instruction and developing reading curricula for more than 100 collegiate teaching programs.

From scholarships and grants for students pursuing teaching degrees to mobile bus libraries that bring books directly to children and their communities, the Pakistan Reading Program aims to comprehensively integrate reading into the lives of Pakistani children. The holistic approach of incorporating reading into both the institutional and communal lives of Pakistanis ensures the sustainability of the project’s efforts. In this way, children in Pakistan will be developmentally prepared for educational challenges they will face throughout their lives and consequently better able to pursue their goals and break from the cycle of poverty.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

mobile bus library
Last month, the Pakistan Reading Project launched its first mobile bus library program at a government secondary school to promote reading habits for young students.

The program is set to run over the next two years in Sindh and Islamabad Capital Territory with plans to bring reading materials directly to communities as part of a larger mission to improve the quality of education.

It’s all part of the USAID-funded Pakistan Reading Project, a five-year initiative that supports the country’s provincial and regional Departments of Education to improve the reading skills of four million children.

The project does this by improving the quality of primary education, teacher education, policy reforms and community engagement. This includes making supplemental instructional materials more widely available to primary school teachers as well as providing a model that ensures sustainability of the initiatives even through permanent policy changes.

The result? At least 2.5 million children who can read at levels commensurate with their grade standards.

The mobile bus library program is an effort to see this vision come true by bringing age-appropriate reading materials directly to communities that don’t have established libraries.

In addition, trained librarians will be aboard each bus, conducting storytelling sessions in each community that they visit. They will also issue books for students to take home to read. It’s an initiative to help reintroduce and reestablish a national culture of reading that once existed in Pakistan.

At the program’s official inauguration, the Assistant to the Administrator of USAID, Donald “Larry” Sampler, and the President of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), David Miliband, were present to speak on the occasion.

“The Mobile Library Programme is just one element of the USAID-funded Pakistan Reading Project which will help Pakistani children to start their own journeys in the world of books,” said Sampler. “Through this partnership between USAID, our implementing partner – the IRC and the Government of Pakistan, we are taking a multi-pronged approach to help increase literacy.”

The Pakistan Reading Project is a $165 million project that has launched several campaigns as well as television and radio episodes with complimentary print material that highlight the importance of reading to all communities.

With the addition of the mobile library bus program, this project anticipates that they will fulfill their vision in seeing improvement in classroom learning and the reestablishment of a national reading culture.

– Chelsee Yee

Sources: Pakistan Reading Project, USAID, Pakistan Today, Zee News
Photo: PBS