PSTA launches poverty reduction programme
LAHORE: The Pak-Swedish Teachers Association has launched the Developmental Programme for Reduction of Poverty to support education, female empowerment and health-care services, a PSTA official said on Thursday.
Speaking at the Lahore Press Club, Thomas Asberg, Swedish advisor of the PSTA, said the programme caters for the development of quality schools with computer education. “The programme will also focus on adult education in order to increase literacy,” he said.
“The PSTA will provide health-care and reproductive health services, family planning and vaccination, in order to reduce infant, child and maternal mortality rates and population growth,” he said. A gender-unit to focus on eliminating gender disparity in education, and female co-operatives for income-generating activities would also established, he added. The programmes were financed by donations from the Swedish International Developmental Authority (SIDA).
Mr Asberg said the challenges facing community organisation in Pakistan were enormous as 40 million people in the country live below the poverty line. Almost 40 percent of children, almost 9 million under five, are malnourished, he said, adding that as many as 80 million people are illiterate.
According to the surveys conducted by the association, 17 million children of school-going age, 6-15 year-olds, are not educated in Pakistan while 65 percent of these children are girls. The yearly population growth is around 3 percent, resulting in an enormous increase in population with limited resources at hand, he added.
The PSTA, Mr Asberg said, through its development works in a ten year perspective (2001-2011) had a special target group in mind: the 250,000 poor brick kiln workers in Lahore and its environs. The association, by year 2005, aims to have 25,000 students on its roll to increase literacy.
Elaborating on already launched PSTA programmes, he said more than 13,200 students were being educated, with girls making up almost 50 percent of this figure. “It also provides free lunch to students in 92 schools while it supports a gender unit and 12 female cooperative centres where 120 women earn their income as part of the female financial empowerment drive of the PSTA,” he said.