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