September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO in 1965 with an aim to highlight the importance of literacy among individuals, communities and societies. According to UNESCO reports, despite varied efforts, literacy remains an elusive target across the world. About 776 million adults lack minimum literacy skills which means that one in five adults is still not literate in the world.
This year, International Literacy Day will put the spotlight on empowering the role of literacy and its importance for participation, citizenship and social development. Literacy and Empowerment is the theme for the 2009-2010 biennial of the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD) 2003-2012. The Decade aims to increase literacy levels and to empower people everywhere.
The International Day of Literacy today would hardly make any difference for Pakistan as here education has always been low on government’s priority.
Public expenditure on education as a percentage to GDP is lowest Not more than 2.4% of total GDP. The trend of investment in education in terms of GDP has been 2.50 per cent and 2.47 per cent in 2006-07 and 2007-08 respectively and it is 2.10 per cent during 2008-09.
According to Pakistan Social and Living Measurement (PSLM) Survey for 2007-08, the overall literacy rate (age 10 years and above) is 56 per cent (69 per cent for male and 44 per cent for female). When analyzed provincially, literacy rate in Punjab stood at 59 per cent followed by Sindh, 56 per cent, NWFP 49 per cent and Balochistan at 46 per cent.
Also, the pupil-teacher ratio has increased at primary level but decreased at secondary level during the last five years.