KARACHI (By Manzoor Ahmad/ENNS) The Sindh Province has made steady progress in literacy in the past decades and girls’ enrolment in schools has increased manifold. Yet, locally, many young populations lack basic literacy skills and Sindh Government is committed to provide right of education to all. This was stated by the Sindh Minister for Women Development Syeda Shahla Raza in a ceremony to commemorate International Literacy Day on 8th September, 2020 held at Directorate of School Education and Literacy Department, Karachi.
The event “Webinar on OVID-19, WASH and Beyond” was organized by Legal Rights Forum in collaboration with Save the Children Pakistan and School Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh to commemorate International Literacy Day.
International Literacy Day celebrations are observed annually Since 1967 around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.
While presenting Welcome Address, the CEO of LRF Mr. Malik Tahir Iqbal said that LRF is standing with Government of Sindh in their efforts in improving literacy in Sindh. He informed the house that the theme of the International Literacy Day this year is to focus on Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond with a focus on the role of educators and changing pedagogies.
Hence, he continued, the key objective of the Webinar is to educate and sensitize participants on their crucial role to prevent contagious diseases such as COVID-19 and importance of use of WASH facilities where everybody needs to take great care of health and hygiene. He shared that in order to celebrate International Literacy Day, LRF is organizing events in Karachi, Dadu, Larkana, Jacobabad and Shikarpur including Teachers Training on COVID-19 and WASH in all five districts and a Girl’s Enrolment Campaign in Shikarpur.
He further shared that as of today LRF is training 340 Government School Teachers in 05 Districts of Sindh on COVID and WASH who will further sensitize thousands of school children and parents to follow Back to School SOPs developed by the SELD, Government of Sindh.
Muhammad Aalam Thaheem, Director Literacy & NFE, School Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh presented his talk. He said that COVID-19 has made all the education system non-formal and there is an opportunity for education stakeholders to introduce innovative programs on non-formal education across Sindh. According to him, COVID-19 Pandemic has seriously impacted the society, especially children, and Government of Sindh is very conscious about reopening schools and the safety of students.
He emphasized the role of all segments of society, especially CSOs, to bring back the healthy environment in schools and spreading awareness about COVID-19 and importance of WASH.
Speaking at the occasion, the Deputy Director Quality Assurance, Directorate of School Education, Government of Sindh Kashif Akhtar said that Sindh plans to open educational institutions in phases from 15th September, 2020. He said that this back to school policy of the Sindh Government will be conditional and the full implementation of SOPs in public and private educational institutions will have to be ensured. Akhtar appreciated LRF on organizing the event and said that International Literacy Day coincides with ours back to school schedule and provides us an opportunity to be aware of COVID-19 and the importance of health & hygiene and WASH.
The Director General of Sindh Child Protection Authority Dr. Azeem ur Raheem also spoke on the occasion. He said that the Social Welfare Department, Government of Sindh was making efforts to provide enabling environments and tangible opportunities through policies, programs and projects that would contribute in promotion of social progress and socio-economic uplift by addressing the needs of the marginalized and vulnerable segments of the society. He appreciated the efforts of event organizers to make people aware of COVID-19 and WASH requirements. He also liked the idea of building the capacity of school teachers in this regard as the teachers has got great respect in our society and can play huge role to sensitize students and their parents to know about COVID & WASH and follow SOPs while going back to school.
Dr. Qamar u Zaman Jamali, Senior Manager Health, Save the Children-Pakistan said that in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic, Save the Children-Pakistan is committed to take care of children in Sindh and is implementing a Hygiene and Behavior Change Collation Project in selected districts of Sindh in partnership with LRF from June – December, 2020. He briefed the house about basic and simple safety measures to avoid COVID-19 infection. He applauded the timing and organization of event that will definitely help government’s efforts to bring school children back to school safely.
In her Concluding Remarks as Chief Guest, Syeda Shahla Raza said that the recent COVID-19 crisis has been a magnifier of existing literacy challenges, deeply affecting schooling and literacy programs. She agreed with the 2020 theme of the International Literacy Day and said that teachers are role model and can play key role to sensitize children and the care givers about COVID-19 and WASH and the importance of following SOPs while going back to school. She thanked the organizers and supporters of the event for organizing a very healthy activity and promised her full support on this cause.
Seema Zahid of SE&LD; Farman Khan of Save the Children-Pakistan; District Officers Education from Jacobabad, Dadu, Larkana and Shikarpur; and Tahir Hasnain Shah, Manzoor Ahmad and Mehwish Hina of LRF also spoke on the occasion.