Adult Female Functional Literacy Programme (AFFLP)
Country Profile: Pakistan
Urdu, Pashto, English, Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi
|Poverty (Population living on less than US$1.25 per day)|
|Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP|
|Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)|
|Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)|
|Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 2010 - 2011)|
|Programme Title||Adult Female Functional Literacy Programme (AFFLP)|
|Implementing Organization||BUNYAD Literacy Community Council (BLCC)|
|Language of Instruction||Urdu|
|Programme Partners||USAID under the Education Sector Reform Assistance (ESRA) Programme and BLCC|
|Date of Inception||2003 –|
BUNYAD Literacy Community Council (BLCC) was formed in 1992 and registered in 1994 as a national non governmental organisation (NGO). Recognising that development is a multidimensional process, BLCC has adopted a multisectoral approach towards the promotion of development in Pakistan. To this end, BLCC is currently implementing a number of diverse yet inter-linked programmes, including literacy and education, health (sanitation, HIV/AIDS awareness, reproductive health), child labour, women empowerment and poverty alleviation, micro-credit and business development, farming and environment. These programmes are funded by various local and international organisations such as UN agencies (UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP), CIDA, USAID, ILO and local business organisations. While BLCC generally endeavours to assist and empower underprivileged and marginalised communities in Pakistan, the Adult Female Functional Literacy Programme (AFFLP) is specifically tailored to meet the educational needs of rural women (aged between 15 and 25) through the provision of functional literacy training assistance. The overall goal is to empower women in order to enhance their capacity to improve their standard of life.
Context and Background
Despite considerable progress made in recent years towards the provision of basic educational opportunities for all, levels of illiteracy in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan remain disturbingly high.Despite considerable progress made in recent years towards the provision of basic educational opportunities for all, levels of illiteracy in Pakistan remain disturbingly high. Between 1995 and 2005 the adult literacy rate, although increasing slightly, was only 50 per cent. In addition, the disparity in the levels of literacy between women and men is also high. For example, between 1995 and 2004, the literacy rate for males and females aged 15–24 years was 77 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively. During the same period, the female literacy rate was as low as 35 per cent for adults aged 24 years and above and was believed to be even lower among rural-based women.
In general, access to education for all is hindered by several factors, including poverty, low state funding of the educational sector (for example in 2005, total expenditure on education was 2.4 per cent of GNP), mismanagement and corruption. The National Geographic summed up these problems more pointedly, ‘It’s not unusual in Pakistan to hear of public schools that receive no books, no supplies and no subsidies from the government. Thousands more are “ghost schools” that exist only on paper, to line the pockets of phantom teachers and administrators’. Further challenges arise from the political instability and insecurity which particularly limits access to education for people living in some rural areas, especially women.
Additionally, the gender disparity with regards to access to education is fuelled by various socio-cultural factors including: the practice of early marriages which prevents girls/women from continuing with their education; conservative religious beliefs which fuels negative attitudes towards educating girls; and shortage of female teachers in a social context that restricts the interaction of females with unrelated males.
BLCC initiated the AFFLP which primarily endeavours to assist women aged between 15 and 25 years to either gain access to education, or resume their studies after failing to continue due to the challenges outlined above.
Adult Female Functional Literacy Programme (AFFLP)
The AFFLP, non-formal education programme, is currently being implemented in the sub-district of Daska Markaz (Sialkot District) as part of the USAID-funded Education Sector Reform Assistance (ESRA) programme. Daska Markaz consists of 12 Union Councils (nine rural and three urban) with an estimated 36,186 households. Daska Markaz has limited educational services and as a result, about 25 per cent of children aged between eight and nine years are out of school while 23 per cent of children aged between ten and 14 years are illiterate. The illiteracy rate is significantly higher for women aged between 15 and 25 years, the majority of whom had no or limited access to basic primary education and are therefore the primary targets of the AFFLP. AFFLP is an integrated programme which offers literacy, vocational, business and life skills training as well as civic (human rights, peace building), health (reproductive, HIV/AIDS, nutrition) and agricultural education.
Aims and Objectives
The project endeavours to:
- improve the basic and functional literacy skills of rural women aged between 15 and 25 years
- promote poverty eradication through literacy empowerment
- empower women to make positive contributions to their communities
- raise health awareness, particularly reproductive, among women
- raise public awareness about the importance of adult female literacy for community development.
Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies
The project began in 2003 and was implemented in two phases: Phase 1, September 2003 to December 2004 and Phase 2, January 2005 to April 2006. During these two phases, the project was implemented in 182 villages across the sub-district.
BLCC has been working with local communities in Daska Markaz since 1999 and by the time the AFFLP was launched strong working partnerships had been established with community leaders and community-based organisations (CBOs). Nonetheless, before the launch of the AFFLP, BLCC conducted community-based qualitative and quantitative needs assessments in Daska Markaz. In the process, about 5211 potential programme participants aged between 15 and 25, the majority of whom had never attended school, were interviewed and the results revealed the need to implement literacy training for women. The surveys were also used to communicate the purpose and significance of the literacy project to the community.
Most importantly, the existing social networks enabled BLCC to mobilise community support as well as learners through community-based sensitisation and dialogue meetings. For example, BLCC held about 101 meetings with community leaders and other influential persons in different locations during which they were briefed about the project: its objectives, the importance of improved female literacy on community development and most importantly, the importance of their active involvement for the success of the programme. Following these meetings, BLCC established Village Education Communities (VEC) and Family Education Communities (FEC). The VECs and FECs were given the responsibility, for example, of identifying and encouraging learners to join the project as well as maintaining and organising activities relating to ESRA literacy centres in their areas.
Recruitment and Training of Teachers
Recruitment of teachers was based on their commitment to education and skills development as well as their teaching experience and qualifications. Two hundred and forty-two teachers were recruited and trained in adult education teaching methodologies, curriculum content and class management and organisation. BLCC also conducted monthly follow-up training workshops for teachers.
Programme Impact and Challenges
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring of the project was undertaken on an ongoing basis using the various organisational structures of BLCC. Thus social/community mobilisers and teachers were responsible for ensuring the learners' continued attendance in classes and progress in acquiring literacy skills. On the other hand, project coordinators and managers were responsible for monitoring the work of the teachers, supervisors and activities at the learning centres. They also provided continuous training support and assistance to the teachers and the VECs and FECs to address the challenges which arose during the programme implementation process. As such, constant contact had been kept with the community through the regular meetings of VEC and FEC so that their participation ensured the smooth running and the success of the centres.
A total of 5600 learners has participated in the programme. The learners have acquired basic functional literacy and numeracy skills in Urdu and English and a variety of vocational skills. A majority of the graduates (86 per cent) are now able to read and write while 14 per cent require remedial assistance. Ultimately, with improved reading skills, most learners are now able to lead more independent lives as they do not have to, for example, ask for directions when travelling or ask for assistance to administer medication to their families. Similarly, but perhaps most importantly, most learners are now able to read the Qur’an or the Bible, which was often the primary motivation in joining the literacy programme. The programme has promoted intergenerational learning because the mothers and their children are now assisting each other to learn various literacy skills. This has, in turn, cultivated positive relationships between parents and their children. Many learners acquired vocational skills such as cutting and sewing skills and are positively contributing towards family subsistence. This has enhanced the status of women within their families and communities. In addition, the project has improved their confidence and thus enabled them to be proactive agents of social change and progress. Two hundred and forty-one community-based teachers have been trained and these will remain an invaluable community resource for a long time. Already some teachers in cooperation with VECs and FECs, are independently implementing developmental projects in their communities.
Challenges and Solutions
Some community leaders and influential families prevented the establishment of community learning centres in the villages. As a result, a number of meetings were arranged with community elders and the programme was further explained to them with regards to the benefits of literacy centres for community development. In most cases, centres were only established after community leaders and elders were convinced that they would be responsible for running and monitoring centre activities. Some of the challenges faced and their remedies were:
- Adolescent girls and young adult women are often not permitted to leave their homes unaccompanied by a male relative due to conservative traditions. As a remedy, literacy classes were organised in village centres close to participants' homes. Additionally, learning centres were established in homes of highly respected local teachers who guaranteed the moral security of the participants.
Some parents were fearful that the literacy programmes would lead to the marginalisation of their religious beliefs. To ameliorate these fears, BUNYAD developed a curriculum which integrates learning in Arabic (the language of the Qur’an) and Urdu, the language spoken by most participants. Equally important, BUNYAD developed easy-to-read learning materials which were distributed to parents to demonstrate to them that the programme was not undermining tradition and that, in fact, it was strengthening it. This gave some parents confidence in the programme, resulting in more learners enrolling. BUNYAD also shared with the parents, the aim of learners to be able to read the Urdu translation of the Holy Qur’an. This really excited the parents and the young women, after reading the 30 chapters of the Holy Qur’an in Urdu, were more comfortable to continue learning.
Due to high rates of poverty, many potential learners could not afford to attend classes due to family responsibilities.
- Most learners were frustrated after failing to be employed after graduating from the project. As a result, programme emphasis is now on vocational skills training which would increase self-employment opportunities for learners.
BLCC has established Community Citizens Boards (CCBs) and entrusted them to spearhead the initiation and implementation of programme activities within their communities as well as to undertake fundraising activities. With regards to the latter, BLCC has linked the CCBs to commercial banks such as the Khushali Bank and local governments, providing invaluable lines of cheap loans. In addition, the establishment of the BUNYAD micro-credit enterprise has enabled BLCC to fund its activities from internal resources as well as to assist programme participants with short-term and cheap loans for income generating activities. Finally, demand for functional literacy skills programmes among women is still high due their limited opportunities to access quality education.
- Belt, Don, «Struggle for the Soul of Pakistan», National Geographic 9 (2007), 59
- Special Section Poverty Alleviation: Initiative Taken by Bunyad
Ms Shaheen Attiq-ur-Rahman
Bunyad Literacy Community Council
P.O. Box No. 6013 Lahore Cantt
Tel:(92-42) 5600621 or 5600692
Tel. Fax: (92-42) 5600293 or 6661817
email: User: shaheenbunyad9
Host: (at) gmail.com; User: shaheenbunyad
Host: (at) yahoo.com
District Coordinator Sialkot
email: User: sialkot
Host: (at) bunyad.org.pk
Last update: 16 July 2010