Pakistan Reading Project concludes after seven years

A ceremony was held in Marriott Islamabad to shed light on the success of the program

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Pakistan Reading Project (PRP) concluded after seven years, helping improve the skills of 1.47 million children in the country. The program was run in partnership with the Government of Pakistan’s federal and provincial education leaders. The United States Library of Congress selected the PRP as the International Literacy Program of the Year.

A ceremony was held in Marriott Islamabad to shed light on the success of the program. Governments of Pakistan and the United States educational officials, along with USAID’s implementing partner, the International Rescue Committee, were present at the occasion.

The Pakistan Reading Project (PRP) benefitted 1.7 million children through training more than 27,000 teachers in reading instruction across Pakistan.  The project developed and distributed 7.3 million copies of learning material for teachers and students in five languages, including Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, Brahui; and two dialects of Sindhi and Pashto spoken in Balochistan.

Deputy Mission Director Michael Nehrbass said that the purpose of the program was to instill the importance of learning in the young population. Nehrbass said that the same methodology can be applied to achieve success in the public schools.

“One of the successes of the project was to further validate the importance of learning to read in local languages in the early grades of school,” Nehrbass said. “Our hope is that the project’s methodology can expand to all public schools around the country through the support of the Pakistan government and PRP’s partners.  As we have seen from the schools where the project was successful, this initiative can improve the foundational reading skills of early grades students, which will lead to more success in the later grades.”

All of the Project’s material is available on Pakistan’s government education department websites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh, and the Islamabad Capital Territory for free public access.  The reading learning materials also are available on the Global Digital Library portal for free downloads at www.digitallibrary.io.

PRP’s work with provincial curriculum departments and textbook boards resulted in the adoption of Urdu and Sindhi language curricula and improved textbooks for grades one and two, which incorporated phonics-based teaching instruction, assessment, and gender inclusion and equity. 

PRP also supported developing the curriculum for teacher education and training for more than 7,700 youth through tertiary education programs. Consequently, 41 percent of teacher trainees are now employed and 21 percent are pursuing higher education. 

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the PRP still reached 5.9 million people through various means.  For example, PRP used WhatsApp to share COVID-19 awareness, reading learning resources, and a radio program to increase awareness of their activities to a broader audience.

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