Category Archives: Fast track literacy

Do We Need to Follow Alphabetic Order to Teach Literacy?

Recently a comment was made about Khoj methodology that it didn’t follow the alphabetic order in teaching literacy and it was a problem that needed to be rectified. This statement prompted me to raise the following questions:

  • Is there a logic in following the alphabetic order to teach literacy?
  • Does this order yield sequential milestones in learning? Is a child able to write certain words and sentences after learning a given number of letters in the alphabetic order? For instance, can they make any given number of words after learning from ا to ث ہ or from ج to خ?
  • Is learning is at a faster pace if the letters of alphabet are first abstractly learnt?

The answer to all the above questions is an emphatic no.

Against All Odds – Story of a Struggle

It was the sweltering heat of May 1999 in the plains of Punjab. The vehicle struggled on the narrow dusty pathways spiraling through the crop fields. There was not even a semblance of a road. The moment the vehicle entered the village of Kot Dina in the district of Sheikhupura children of varying ages flocked after us. Seventeen kilometers away from the main road, like majority of the surrounding villages Kot Dina, with its mud thatched houses, had no functional primary school either for girls or boys. The area was the hub of ghost schools – the schools which were functional only on paper according to a government commissioned survey. The girls were the most deprived of the most basic educational opportunities as they were not allowed to go out of the village. The situation was breeding perennial illiteracy and, understandably, the area could not produce teachers. The fact that the villages were amongst the worst crime hit areas in the country made the prospects of availing the opportunities of getting educated very bleak. School buildings were in the personal use of the village elite – as meeting or storage places.

Should We Wait for the Next Century to Become Literate?

Education in Pakistan is crying for help. Thirty per cent of Pakistanis live in extreme educational poverty-having received less than two years of education. At current rates of progress, Balochistan has to wait for the next century to be able to guarantee children their constitutional right to education while Punjab can achieve that only in 2041, Sindh in 2049 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2064.

And those who are able to attend school, only thirty five per cent of rural school children can read a story while fifty per cent cannot read a sentence. They don’t fare really better than out of school children twenty four per cent of whom can read a story showing almost a parallel performance. What a great performance by those at the helm of affairs.

Khoj Methodology – A Sure Way to Education for All in Pakistan 2

It is a reality of everyday life when children come to school, no matter how young they are, they come with a profound knowledge of a language.  They have already learnt not only the various elements of a language but also make a very skillful and clever use of it. Even before entering the school, they know how to express themselves in various contexts and situations. They have enviable vocabulary to express a range of complex emotions – their anger,happiness, excitement, love, affection, sadness, pain, likes and dislikes and the list goes on. They know perfectly appropriate use of words with falling and rising intonations to communicate with all kinds of relationships in the family and with a variety of friends. They know the age appropriateness of their expression and the selection of words; they know how to communicate with the younger siblings and friends and if required, how to instantly switch the words and expressions while talking with elders like father, mother, grandparents, uncles and aunts and strangers. They also express the understanding of the nuances of language when they make subtle differences in expression when they communicate with their mothers and fathers; there may be many subtle differences. Their selection of words and expressions may be very different. And the list of the variations is endless; how they communicate with the world.

Khoj Methodology – A Sure Way to Education for All in Pakistan 1

The number of out of school children in Pakistan exceeds the total population of the countries like Norway, Ireland and New Zealand. According to the 2012 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, the country is home to around 5.1 million such children, which makes it the abode of the second largest number of out of school children in the world. Unfortunately, the story of the dismal performance doesn’t end here. Pakistan is also home to more than 50 million illiterate adults which is the third highest number in the world. And almost half of the rural women have never been to school.


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