A combination of factors keeps children illiterate in Pakistan, especially in rural areas which are often without schools or education centres of any kind. These include limited access to quality education, poorly trained teachers and a weak curriculum that emphasises rote learning and precludes problem-solving and critical thinking. With 64% of Pakistan's population living in rural communities that remain largely neglected by public development opportunities, quality education provision is necessary to increase literacy, school enrolment rates and improve prospects for girls and women.
Developments in Literacy (DIL) believes that no child in Pakistan should be denied access to quality education. The organisation educates and empowers underprivileged students, especially girls, by operating student-centred model schools in rural areas where government schools are lacking. This instils inquiry, independent thinking and confidence in students. DIL also gives teachers access to professional development support across Pakistan to ensure the best quality of education is provided to students.
DIL's key goal is to improve socio-economic opportunities for underprivileged students through quality education and empowerment through the Three As: Awareness, Attitudes and Aspirations.
Since its inception, DIL has achieved a record low student drop-out rate of 1.5%. And 47% of DIL rural school graduates continue their education beyond secondary level or become employed as skilled workers such as teachers, development officers, district education officers and field researchers.
Today, DIL works in more than 150 schools across Pakistan, educating more than 16,000 students, two-thirds of whom are girls. Through its Teacher Education College, DIL trained 1,200 teachers during 2010 and 2011.
The Impact Award funding and non-financial support is contributing to three key areas within DIL’s work: teacher training delivery and planning; vocational training programme consolidation and expansion; and bolstering the DIL endowment fund.
The organisation has hired new staff and are working to promote greater technological literacy and infrastructure in their schools. DIL is also upgrading the skills of 10 trainers for developing, designing, and delivering blended courses for rural teachers anywhere in Pakistan.
The vocational training programmes - particularly the stitching centres and youth computer labs - have been very successful, and the Award will enable DIL to prepare for expansion and replication in at least two new communities, allowing the organisation to serve more than 1,000 women and girls annually.
Part of the funding has gone to grow the DIL's endowment fund, an important tool for leveraging matched donations and securing financial sustainability.
Photos: Sam Phelps