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August 26, 2015

USAID introduces phonetics for Urdu alphabets in school curriculum


August 26, 2015

Though the conditions of basic facilities in public schools located on the outskirts of Islamabad remain far below the international standards, the schools are adopting international teaching standards with the help of public-private partnership.
One such collaboration resulted in the introduction of phonetics for Urdu alphabets in the curriculum of 57 schools of Tarnol under USAID’s Pakistan Reading Project (PRP). The project is aimed at inculcating and encouraging reading habit among the students and plans to train 30,000 teachers of public schools around the country while reaching 1.3 million children in five-year term.
A good example of this collaboration is Islamabad Model School for Girls (IMSG), Sangjani, Tarnol, where there are only 12 classrooms for 17 badges with five classes sitting in the open on mats. Number of girls in one class is around 50 to 70 with many students sitting on the floor in the classes due to lack of furniture whereas the result of around 1,000 girl students in this small school is 97 per cent.
The teachers of IMSG, who are teaching Urdu to class one and two, have received training on phonetics under this project. “This technique focuses on reading skills. With traditional method, students were not able to read properly even in higher classes but now students of class two are taking interest in reading and making proper sentences,” said Tayyabah Nasreen, an IMSG teacher trained under this project.
The students tap with their fingers as they pronounce the sounds. “In this technique, students split words in sounds while tapping their fingers which helps them in focusing on the number of sounds in a word while side by side keeping them alert and attentive,” said Abid Hussain Shah, another teacher trained under the same program.
Area Educational Officer, Tarnol, Gulshan Jahan Ara also expressed hope that this new technique of learning would greatly benefit the students. “We have observed

noticeable improvement in children after implementing this technique. They have become more responsive towards reading,” she said.
Talking about the provision of basic facilities for the school, she said that proposal for more rooms and furniture has been submitted to the Federal Directorate of Education and they are waiting for response. “All these issues should not stop the learning process,” she said while talking to the media persons.
Highlighting the key aspects of the project, Chief of Party for PRP Barbara Toy-Welsh said that the USAID funded Pakistan Reading Project is a five-year initiative which is supporting Pakistan’s provincial and regional departments of education to improve reading skills of children across Pakistan.
“Path to all learning passes through reading,” she said while explaining the objectives of the project. She said that from Kindergarten to class one, children learn to read and from class 4 to 8, they read to learn.
“Research shows that teachers suffer from lack of knowledge and support on appropriate institutional approach in reading and writing. We hope that through this project, we will be able to set a trend that will lead to greater focus on reading, mastery in five reading competencies including phonics awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.”

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