Literacy Initiatives In Punjab (Pakistan): A Model Of Good Governance
By Waleed Tariq:
We are living in an age of globalization; an era of knowledge workers and societies where the world is on an electronic super highway, witnessing new innovations and inventions every day. Pakistan’s human resourcepotential has been neglected and the key to success is a smart human resource equipped with creativity and entrepreneurial skills.
Punjab (Pakistan) the land of five rivers, in it’s commitment to eradicate illiteracy from the province has established Literacy and Non Formal Basic Education Department which is charged with the legal responsibility of enhancing literacy rate, promotion of adult literacy and life learning skills. Unlike other provincial authorities, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PMLN) government in Punjab under the leadership of Mian Shahbaz Sharif; Chief Minister of Punjab has undertaken a number of initiatives in this direction, inculcating technical knowledge, eradicating illiteracy and in-turn, promoting good governance.
All government high schools have been equipped with state-of-the art computer laboratories to bridge the digital divide in the country. The unique Punjab IT Lab Project, a milestone for the promotion of quality educationwill help improve the school children’s skill and impart quality education through IT Labs. Moreover, Shahbaz Sharif has already launched Danish School Project; state of the art schools providing high standard education to poor children, absolutely free. Also, laptop distribution for high-achieving graduate and post-graduate students has already begun.
1. Punjab IT Lab Project
To overcome the prevalent digital divide between the public and private sector schools, Chief Minister Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif in 2009, initiated the Punjab IT lab project in Government schools, throughout the province. Completed in a record time of 110 days, this project covers over 4286 schools. It equips every school with 3 desktop PCs and 12 virtual desktops with licensed software from Microsoft, high speed internet connection and hardware solutions from local companies like Inbox, Siemens and Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL). The entire venture is executed and monitored under supervision of Microsoft technologies.
2. Laptop distribution throughout Punjab
Under its resolve to empower the younger generation of the province, Punjab Government in late 2011, as a part of its ‘Youth Initiative’ decided to distribute 100,000 laptops amongst the top achievers in both graduate and post-graduate degree programs. The distribution is under-way and students of all public sectors colleges and universities are being selected on merit, helping them to cope and overcome the challenges of learning and professional growth in the modern times.
Information technology is the need of the hour and merit recognition by providing free laptop computers to capable pupils will be helpful in creating IT enabled students, boost students’ morale, complement government policy of digitization and bring about an improvement in socio-economic indicators through the availability of hi-tech devices to the Punjab student community.
The plan is exemplary as computers are now a basic necessity in the landscape of daily use. Mian Shahbaz Sharif hopes to end poverty this way, and there is no doubt that the era in which our school children are to grow up, will be the one in which computers are ever-present.
3. Danish School System
Educational system in Pakistan is fast-falling mainly because of the poor quality of education and the non-availability of funds. In such a backdrop, setting up of Danish School System is significant, particularly in Pakistanwhere literacy rate is less than any other state in South Asia.
After research it was found out that the solution of backwardness and poverty of Southern Punjab lies in the promotion of quality education. Therefore, the Punjab government decided to launch The Danish School; aproject at first meant for the poor, now also caters to the prosperous sections of the society. At present; six Danish Schools are functional in two districts of Southern Punjab i.e. Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan.
Shahbaz Sharif must be complimented for chalking out such plans that ensure imparting of quality education to the students, irrespective of their financial background. Rather than just lip-servicing, other heavy-liddedfederating units should take inspiration from PMLN and thereby launch such schemes which can benefit future generations.