The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently pledged more than $100 million towards improving education in Pakistan‘s Sindh Province. The funds will go towards the Sindh Reading Program (SRP) which will work to improve reading and mathematics in primary school.
The Sindh Reading Program is a five-year initiative that works under the umbrella of the Sindh Basic Education Project (SBEP). The SRP aims to address critical issues that are affecting reading and mathematics scores in primary school. It will do this through continuous teacher development, improving student assessment, providing supplementary materials and promoting family involvement.
A crucial component of the SRP is its focus on improving teacher performance. The program will provide 25,000 teachers with professional development opportunities in order to improve their instructional competencies in reading and mathematics.
New lesson plans will also be provided to the teachers to increase student engagement. The format of the teachers’ lesson plans will become activity-based, which will result in a positive student-teacher relationship.
USAID’s program manager for Sindh Basic Education, Dr. Randy Hatfield, added to this sentiment when he said, “USAID is striving for quality assurance of teaching and learning practices in schools by creating avenues that empower teachers in the classroom.”
So far, the USAID-funded program has distributed more than 120,000 teaching and reading resources in almost 1,500 schools in the Sindh province. This is in an effort to reach the SRP’s goal of reaching 750,000 students through improved teaching, learning and assessment testing in grades K-5.
The program also hopes to enroll 100,000 out-of-school children, of which there are more than four million in Sindh province. The goal is for these children to reenter school, and have a greater likelihood of escaping poverty. The program also aims to enroll the parents of these children in literacy programs.
The SRP works under USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Project. The SBEP is similar to the SRP in its goals but differs in scope. Instead of focusing only on improving reading and mathematics, SBEP aims to improve Sindh’s education as a whole.
SBEP’s main objective is to increase student enrollment. It achieves this by creating school environments that are conducive to learning and renovating or constructing schools that were harmed by the 2010 floods.
USAID’s SBEP also has a goal of increasing girls’ enrollment and improving the nutrition of the students.
To date, the USAID-funded SBEP has achieved the construction of 26 new schools, the financing of seven schools, 1000 new girls enrolled in primary classes and a survey of student nutrition. Dr. Hatfield praised the program’s success when he said “We welcome and appreciate these strategic interventions by US Government, which are facilitating fulfillment…for children between the ages of five and 16 in Pakistan.”
Through its Sindh Reading Program, the Sindh Basic Education Project hopes to lower the 10 percent illiteracy rate in its province. Considering the statistically proven relationship between poverty and illiteracy, SBEP hopes to increase literacy to lower poverty.
– Andrew Wildes