Pakistan is the most populated country in the world with an estimated population of 172 million people.
The country is divided into four provinces, and is neighbors with India, Iran, China and Afghanistan. It has a total per capital income of $2,370 (with PPP adjusted) and total foreign currency reserves of $25.3 billion. It is ranked 135th on the Human Development Index and has had an average economic growth rate of about 6-8% from 2003 to 2008. This has been negated by a population growth rate of 1.99% and high inflationary pressures.
Pakistan’s economy is primarily agriculture-based with 65.1% of people living in rural areas. The country is currently on an IMF structural reform program that started in 2008. The total trade deficit estimated in the current fiscal year shows 10.57 billion per annum (est.2008). Pakistan’s age distribution has 37.2% of population under the age of 15 - this puts a lot of pressure on its macroeconomic indicators like literacy rates, provision of health care, unemployment and food supplies.
Education Sector Summary
The total school-going population of Pakistan is estimated at 23 million. With an adult literacy rate of 49.9% and with only 35.4% of girls attending schools as compared to 64.1% of boys, Pakistan is in desperate need of public-private participation to improve net enrollments. The total public expenditure on education is only 2.3% ($3.68 billion) of its GDP which in real terms is $160.9 billion (estimated). Through media campaigns, increased budget and foreign assistance, the government is trying to boost the literacy rate but the results have shown slow progress. As a signatory to the Millennium Development goals aiming at 100% enrollment for primary education, Pakistan needs to invest heavily in its education sector. The net primary enrolment rate is 68% which is far lower than other developing nations like Thailand. Pakistan’s government received a total of $2.3 billion in foreign assistance in the past five years which is helping to bridge the gap of budgetary requirements. The government has also taken a serious note of improving ICT (Information and Communications Technology) by establishing the National ICT strategy for the education sector in the Ministry of Education.
Our Country Program
As is evident from the facts above, there is a dearth of resources available to the 23 million children in need of education. Children of Tomorrow is working in collaboration with an international NGO which runs more than 150 schools in underprivileged communities. Our focus is to provide this NGO with computer-based education (CBE) as a supplement to classroom learning. Our aim is to bring computers into the classes through laptops running on alternate energy and providing proprietary software that transfers their English and Math curriculum in an interactive format.
A report released by UNESCO tells us that as many as 30% of students drop-out between grade 1 and grade 5. We believe that through an edutainment program this attrition rate can be greatly reduced. Children of Tomorrow has experienced many examples where the introduction of computers to the classroom has significantly improved retention rates. It provides a powerful incentive to attend school. The software also contributes in improving their IT-skills, phonetics and attention spans of the students. Ongoing training and enhancing teachers' computer skills is imperative. Delivering such training through the use of technology is a major part of our plan.
The pilot phase of our deployment has started on April 6, 2009, whereby 3 schools were equipped with education software to deliver Grade 2 curriculum. This phase will test user experience and quantify the social return on the use of this technology. On the back of this project, we will start deployment of solar run laptops in the target schools.