According to the nationwide data compiled in 1998, the overall literacy rate in FATA stood at around 17.42%, comparing fairly poorly with the national literacy percentage. Encompassing insufficient budgetary allocations for education uplift, the problems have also been compounded by factors such as substandard quality of teaching, inconveniently located academic institutions and financial incapacity of the parents.
The ongoing armed conflict in the region has also played a major part in profoundly affecting the prevalent education system.Countering such predicaments that have hampered the progression of the people of FATA in the field of education, the Government has come up with an effective counter strategy which calls for offering talent scholarships to 3000 deserving students hailing from the Tribal Areas in various top-tier public institutions throughout Pakistan.
This literacy improvement project for FATA has been launched at an estimated cost of US$ 22 Million to provide quality post primary level opportunities through financial support over a period of 05 years in institutions located outside FATA. In order to change the mindset and broaden the intellectual horizons of youth, the literacy improvement project envisages identification of bright students through competitive entry examinations and their subsequent placement in some of the most established academic institutions.
Some of them include Army Burn Hall College, Aitchison College, Sadiq Public School, Fazal-e-Haq College and Cadet Colleges throughout the country. All the expenses comprising tuition fees, boarding expenses, stationary allowances and monthly allowances would be borne through this project.
An official of the Directorate of Education FATA stressed that their central objective would be to provide quality and accessibility in terms of higher education prospects to harness the talent of youth into the national mainstream by removing the huge disparity that existed between FATA and rest of the country. “All of our present and future programs are planned around improving literacy, promoting access and ensuring quality education for the poor and deserving students of both genders in FATA”, he said fervently.
Under the FATA Sustainable Development Plan (SDP: 2006 – 2015), the FATA Secretariat has prioritized to augment the overall literacy to 31% by 2015, with male and female ratios targeted to accomplish 50% and 12% respectively. To realize these ambitious goals, an amount of Rs. 27.645 Million has been allocated under the plan, as outlined in the report.