PESHAWAR, Pakistan: “SMS based adult female literacy education program”, a unique initiative of Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) and Mobilink Foundation has enabled over 4,000 female of rural areas in eight districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to read a newspaper and write in Urdu and perform everyday calculations, besides providing employment opportunities to 150 others.
With the help of four specifically-designed textbooks and freely-given mobile phones to the adult students, the 150 local teachers in districts Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Buner, Malakand, Haripur, Mansehra and Kohat were running Adult Literacy Centres (ALCs), Noman Ahmed, a research associate at I-SAPS told on Monday.
He said under the program the teachers were first identified from the same community and were recruited on a handsome stipend to make the other females in their areas literate at ALC, adding that having the strength of 25 to 30 learners in each of the selected villages, the ALCs have so far enabled over 4,000 adult females to become under the definition of literate.
He said the education of females was not considered necessary in KPK, with the exception of a few urban cities adding that girls were less likely to enter the schools due to various factors including social and cultural values, therefore, it was decided to involve the local females and train them to further educate more females.
Ahmed said that as an alternative, I-SAPS took onboard the local communities in providing basic literacy to their female family members in a close proximity to their homes while respected elders and influential individuals of the villages were engaged, sensitized and grouped in the form of 154 Village Education Support Committees for their practical involvement in the planning and execution of the initiative, he added.
The community members, who were initially considered negative and in some cases even hostile, when approached to allow their female family members to participate in the initiative, were later found advocating on behalf of female education in interesting ways, he told this agency.
He said the response of the communities were amazing when many of them dedicated a portion of their homes to be designated as ALCs for female learners of their respective villages while others opened up Hujras for the program.
Even in some village, Ahmed said, the seminaries also welcomed the initiative and allowed adult females for organising their basic literacy classes there under the initiative.
Reema Gul of Village Shah Noor Pull in Mardan district, one of the recruited female teachers and trainers for the program told APP that she had managed to complete her Intermediate under the initiative despite a financially disadvantaged background, eight siblings, and an ailing father who used to do labour jobs.
Ahmed said that each of the recruited teacher, after several rounds of rigorous trainings, have taken charge of 150 Adult Literacy Centres (ALCs) in the eight districts of KPK to further educate the other females.
Zainab Bibi, another recruited teacher from Baramkha Khel village in Nowshera district, shared that the recruitment and training of female teachers under the initiative would help create a virtuous cycle in the local communities.
“As more female teachers are trained to impart basic literacy to their fellow adult females, more literate mothers are available for the education of next generation,” she said.
She said the initiative was not only helping me to support my family, but also had enabled her to positively contribute in the lives of 25 more fellow women by educating them.
Ahmed told about the program that as the learners gained some level of literacy during their basic coursework, each of them has been provided with a mobile phone in order to practice and further develop their newly acquired skills by sending answers to the received set of questions.
The participants of the initiative happily report how inter-generational learning has already begun with mothers and sisters passing on their new literacy skills to their children and siblings.