4,435 feeder schools set up in 16 districts
By Waqar Gillani
LAHORE: The National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) has set up more than 4,435 feeder schools with 6,507 teachers in various districts throughout the country, said the commission in its quarterly report released on May 31.
The report said the commission had initially launched its literacy campaign in 16 districts and this would spread to 45 more districts soon.
Each feeder school operates as a part of the nearest government school, and is commonly known as branch government school. The space for these schools is provided by the community. The commission has enrolled 520,000 children of ages between five and seven at these schools. The dropout rate in these schools has decreased significantly as compared to the national average rate of 50 percent. The report said that 327,372 students were enrolled by October 2003.
In the adult literacy project, the NCHD has set up 1,915 centres where 51,800 learners of ages between 15 and 39 are being taught basic literacy while 21,740 learners have graduated from these centres, the report said.
In the non-formal literacy project, the commission has set up 481 basic education centres where 13,000 learners of ages between eight and 14 are enrolled and 5,897 have graduated. Around 650,000 mothers have been given health education in six districts on how to use the ORS solutions to protect their children from diarrhoea and dehydration, which are major causes of child mortality. The campaign is estimated to protect 42,000 children from these diseases in the targeted districts. Over 50,000 children and women have been vaccinated against serious diseases in areas where no governmental or private vaccination facilities were available so far.
Around 90 percent of children in these areas are being weighed and monitored on a monthly basis to keep a check on malnutrition. Around 85,000 children and women have been given basic health education. The number of couples using family planning methods has increased 500 percent in the targeted areas, said the report. The number of families using iodised salt has been doubled and the number of women given anti-tetanus serum vaccinations has been increased 700 percent, the report added.
The report said 49,000 community volunteers have been identified and are actively participating in the NCHD’s literacy, health and other campaigns. A target of about 100,000 volunteers has been set for the establishment of a National Volunteer Corps. Around 2,897 volunteers as union council coordinators and 6,172 volunteer as village coordinators have been trained so far. In Ghotki district in Sindh, six government schools, which had been closed, were reopened with the support of female volunteer teachers, while in Thatta 21 community-based schools were opened in remote areas, the report added.
The report said the NCHD’s role and its volunteer initiatives were recognised by the United Nations secretary general in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2002.
The NCHD launched its programmes in August 2002 in the Mardan district of the NWFP and within two years it has extended its programmes to sixteen districts by setting up human development support units (HDSU) across the country. These HDSUs are the primary channel for the implementation of the commission’s various programmes. Apart from these sixteen districts, the NCHD has launched its literacy campaign in 19 other districts with the help of local civil society organisations (CSOs), covering 40 percent of the total area of the country.
The UN millennium summit held in September 2000 had set the millennium development goals to address the issue of human development and Pakistan was one of the first countries to establish the Pakistan Human Development Fund to support social development at the grassroots levels.
The fund’s patron-in-chief is President General Pervez Musharraf and it is supported by an initial grant of $32 million by the government of Pakistan and capital of $2.5 million donated by individual Pakistani philanthropists. The United Nations Development Fund also helped the fund with $1.7 million.
The commission was planning the capacity building of existing government departments, CSOs and elected representatives, said NCHD Chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf while talking to Daily Times.
The nascent program was currently providing resources to develop these organisations so that their capacity to achieve human development could be enhanced throughout the country, he added.