ISLAMABAD, Feb 13 (APP): The United States and Pakistan Thursday launched "Pakistan Reading Project", marking the beginning of a five year, $160 million investment in reading education in Pakistan.
Funded through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the project will improve the reading skills of 3.2 million children across Pakistan, build the capacity of 94,000 primary school teachers, and provide over 6,000 scholarships to train aspiring teachers.
US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G. Olson, U.S Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine Russell, and State Minister for Education, Training, and Standards in Higher Education Baligh-ur-Rehman addressed teachers and parents at the Islamabad Model Secondary School for Girls, Chak Shahzad. They also visited classrooms and met with school children.
While addressing, Ambassador Olson said. "The Pakistan reading Project is an opportunity to improve the reading skills of millions of Pakistani children. "We hope this project will reinforce a national culture of reading - in classrooms, communities, and homes. "
He said "US is proud to be funding this project, which will further expand our longtime partnership with the government of Pakistan to help ensure that education is available for all Pakistani children".
Ambassador said better reading skills will help students improve their chances of success in the rest of their educational pursuits.
U.S Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine, M. Russel said. "The United States has invested in girls' education because we know it is one of the most effective development investments for a girl's future employment."
The Pakistan Reading Project will reach students in 67 districts and will help ensure high quality literacy instruction at the primary school level.
She said the project will also provide teacher training opportunities by expanding the number of colleges and universities of offering specialized bachelors and associate degrees in education that focus on reading.
Addressing on the occasion, State Minister for Education Baligh Ur Rehman said education plays a vital role in the socio-economic development of any nation and raises the productivity and efficiency of individuals.
He said government is committed to increase investment in education sector significantly in the next five years.
"We are also working closely with each other to enroll around 5 million 'Out of School children' in the next three years under a national plan of Action to accelerate progress towards education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)".
Principal Islamabad Model Secondary School for Girls, Chak Shahzad, Saiqa Arif and Secretary CADD Faridullah Khan also spoke on the occasion.
The Pakistan Reading Project is one part of a comprehensive education program that the United States implements in Pakistan in partnership with the government of Pakistan.
This programme includes building or rehabilitating more than 850 schools, establishing centers for advanced education studies at three Pakistani universities, expanding English skills for more than 5,000 low-income students, and awarding more than 4,800 scholarships for university students to pursue education through the Pakistan-USAID Merit and Needs Based scholarship Programme.