Educationists, government officials, NGO representatives and media personnel gathered at a hotel to celebrate the International Literacy Day 2012 and to discuss the state of literacy & education in Pakistan today.
The Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) held the International Literacy Day themed ‘Literacy & Peace’ to help raise awareness on literacy issues across the globe and in the country in particular.
Over a 100 participants attended the event to talk about how literacy and education have an impact on the state of peace and harmony in a country. The expert panel present at the event discussed the different forms of literacy and how the situation of the nation can be improved by focusing on education.
Prof. Anita, Sindh Education Foundation (SEF), said that though the overall state of literacy in Pakistan was dismal, there were isles of excellence present in the country and people working hard to improve the field of education. She said that it was the Government’s responsibility to better the state of education and literacy in the nation. Prof. Anita added that literacy does not only means reading and writing anymore but encompasses visual, media, cultural, civic and technological literacy as well.
Abbas Rashid, Society for the Advancement of Education (SAHE), said that literacy was a necessary condition for fostering peace and harmony. He said that there were a lot of divisions in the country today which can be remedied through the power of education to a great extent. He stated that education is a very powerful tool in encouraging tolerance or vice versa, as is evident throughout history, and should be utilized to advance the cause of peace.
Arshad Mahmud, National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), said that sadly there is a sense of paranoia and intolerance that has pervaded the country today. He said that education, especially the finer arts such a music and art, has a part to play in softening the harsh divides that have been inculcated in the society. He said that children should be given exposure to all fields of education so they can decide what they would like to pursue in their lives.
Ms. Baela Raza Jamil, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), said it was sad to see religious intolerance in the country. She believed that questions need to be raised and asked on the current conditions and not just be borne quietly by the people. She said that our ability to think, rationalize and imagine is being constricted by today’s curriculum and needs to be set free, fostered and nurtured. She added this was essential in bridging the gaps that have been created and it is the society that needs to come together and work towards its own betterment.
Mr. Karamat Ali, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), said the ruling class in the country has always ensured that the majority of the nation does not get the benefit of education. He said that focus should be given on the rights of children to an education and that it is our responsibility to improve the current situation of the country.
A question answer session was held between the panel and the attendees at the end of the session.