World Bank Sanctions $100mln To Boost Sindh Literacy

World Bank Approved $100 Million To Support Pakistan’s Efforts To Increase Sindh Literacy And Student Retention Rates In The Sindh Province.

By Mehtab Haider

The World Bank Has Approved $100 Million To Support Pakistan’s Efforts To Increase Literacy And Student Retention Rates In The Sindh Province, A Statement Said On Friday.

The multilateral lender said Sindh Early Learning Enhancement through Classroom Transformation (SELECT) project would help the provincial government enhance investments in basic education in disadvantaged and remote communities. The project would focus on strengthening reading and comprehension skills of primary-level students, skills which are foundational to early learning, it added.

The project would also institute an adaptive education system to better manage school disruptions and mitigate future school dropouts, which would be achieved using innovations in technology and communications to help students return to and stay in school expected to fully reopen in August this year. According to the World Bank’s assessment for the project, Pakistan, the sixth most populous country, in the world, is at a crossroads.

Pakistan has the world’s second highest out-of-school population (22 million), and it is estimated that 75 percent of children in later primary ages are not proficient in reading. This means that the Learning Poverty rate for Pakistan is 15.6 percentage points worse than the average for the South Asia region and 14.3 percentage points worse than the average for lower-middle income countries. Large disparities remain in development outcomes between provinces and between urban and rural areas.

Sindh is a province with a population of more than 47 million inhabitants with diverse economic and human development challenges. The population growth is high with an average annual growth rate of 2.40 between 1998 and 2017. Sindh is a major center of economic activity in Pakistan and has a highly diversified economy ranging from heavy industrial and financial sectors, based in Karachi, to a substantial agricultural base along the Indus River.

However, the incidence of poverty is much higher in rural areas (75.5 percent) than in urban areas (10.6 percent), and Sindh’s overall human development outcomes are negatively impacted by its severely disadvantaged rural—and often drought-stricken—population. The female literacy rate in rural Sindh is 24 percent, compared with 70 percent in urban Sindh and 38 percent in rural areas nationwide.

“School closures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic have disproportionately affected children, especially girls, from low-income households and hard-to-reach rural areas across the Sindh Province,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“The SELECT project aims to tackle learning poverty in the Province’s most vulnerable communities. It will mainly focus on early learning and ensure a safe learning environment that is equipped for remote learning, so that students can continue education in case of further school closures,” Benhassine added.

The project is financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s low-interest arm. An additional $55 million will be in grant financing from the Global Partnership for Education, which aims to accelerate progress in achieving universal primary education and gender equality.

This news was originally published at The News.

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