Pakistan's Rasoolpur Village is 100% Literate and Crime-Free

Pakistan's sensational media coverage projects only the dark side of the country with a constant stream of news stories of militancy, illiteracy and deprivation. But BBC Urdu took a road less traveled and found a small village of Rasoolpur in the Punjab which demolishes some of the worst stereotypes of the country.

Here's how BBC describes it:
دور دراز علاقوں سے ایک تو خبر ہی مشکل سے آتی ہے۔آتی بھی ہے تو اکثر بری خبر ہی ہوتي ہے۔ شايد سی لیے رسول پور جیسے گاؤں، 99 فیصد شرح خواندگی اور زیرو جرائم کا ریکارڈ رکھنے کے باوجود سنسنسی زدہ میڈیا کے لیے خبر کا درجہ نہیں رکھتے۔۔
Translation: News from remote areas of Pakistan does not easily reach the urban press but when it does, any good news like 100% literacy and zero crime in Rasoolpur village is discarded by the sensational media as not newsworthy.

Rasoolpur is a village with a population of just 2000. Most of its residents are ethnic Baloch whose ancestors migrated from Pakistan's Balochistan province to Southern Punjab. It is located in Rajanpur district in the Seraiki speaking region. Its literacy rate is near 100%.  The United Nations defines literacy as the ability to sign one's name. But Rasoolpuris hold themselves to a much higher standard; they have all their children finish high school.

There are no children out of school. It is crime-free. It is clean. There are two high schools, one for the girls and other for the boys.

Here's a BBC Urdu video about Rasoolpur village:

travelog rasoolpur. from sharjil baloch on Vimeo.

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Riaz Haq said…
Buried inside the bad news is a glimmer of what could be considered hope for Pakistan's grade 5 and 8 students outperforming their counterparts in India. While 72% of Pakistan's 8th graders can do simple division, the comparable figure for Indian 8th graders is just 57%. Among 5th graders, 63% of Pakistanis and 73% of Indians CAN NOT divide a 3 digit number by a single digit number, according to the World Bank report titled "Student Learning in South Asia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Priorities".

Here are some excepts from the World Bank report:

Unfortunately, although more children are in school, the region still has a major learning challenge in that the children are not acquiring basic skills. For example, only 50 percent of grade 3 students in Punjab, Pakistan, have a complete grasp of grade 1 mathematics (Andrabi et al. 2007). In India, on a test of reading comprehension administered to grade 5 students across the country, only 46 percent were able to correctly identify the cause of an event, and only a third of the students could compute the difference between two decimal numbers (NCERT 2011). Another recent study found that about 43 percent of grade 8 students could not solve a simple division problem. Even recognition of two-digit numbers, supposed to be taught in grade 2, is often not achieved until grade 4 or 5 (Pratham 2011). In Bangladesh, only 25 percent of fifth-grade students have mastered Bangla and 33 percent have mastered the mathematics competencies specified in the national curriculum (World Bank 2013). In the current environment, there is little evidence that learning outcomes will improve by simply increasing school inputs in a business-as-usual manner (Muralidharan and Zieleniak 2012).

In rural Pakistan, the Annual State of Education Report (ASER) 2011 assessment suggests, arithmetic competency is very low in absolute terms. For instance, only 37 percent of grade 5 students can divide three-digit numbers by a single-digit number (and only 27 percent in India); and 28 percent of grade 8 students cannot perform simple division. Unlike in rural India, however, in rural Pakistan recognition of two-digit numbers is widespread by grade 3 (SAFED 2012). The Learning and Educational Achievement in Punjab Schools (LEAPS) survey—a 2003 assessment of 12,000 children in grade 3 in the province—also found that children were performing significantly below curricular standards (Andrabi et al. 2007). Most could not answer simple math questions, and many children finished grade 3 unable to perform mathematical operations covered in the grade 1 curriculum. A 2009 assessment of 40,000 grade 4 students in the province of Sindh similarly found that while 74 percent of students could add two numbers, only 49 percent could subtract two numbers (PEACE 2010).
Riaz Haq said…
Sindh’s glorious model village of Tando Soomro

Tando Soomro, a small town located some 15 kilometers from the Tando Allahyar city of Sindh, is a versatile and model village which is the abode of different qualities and a magnificent beauty.

‘Tando’ is a prefix used in the names of many cities and towns of Sindh, for example, Tando Muhammad Khan, and Tando Allahyar. Historically, there has been a lot of debate; some researchers believe that the word has been derived from Sindhi word ‘taando’ that means ‘ash’, while others believe that ‘tando(s)’ were the cantonments of Talpur rulers.

As I stepped in the village, I witnessed a large boundary wall of some 10-feet in height covering a vast area. “Our village is secured by a boundary wall from two sides with private security check posts at the entrance of the village and one needs to confirm his identity and the purpose of his visit before entering,” my host and resident of the village Ghulam Akbar Rojhani explained.

We followed our friend’s vehicle through the wide, clean and cemented streets of the village. One of the things that amazed me was that most of the sewerage system was underground and had a grill on it.

Thanks to the education and unity among villagers and most of the affairs of the village are run by the committee. Many of the residents are well-known agriculturists and some are even serving on important posts in Pakistan as well as abroad. These villagers are encouraged to make voluntary contributions in the village committee fund for the provision of facilities in village-like spending on education, health unit, streets, playgrounds, and sewerage.

The committee appointed by villagers is further divided into different sub-committees for education, health, sports, and security. These sub-committees look after the domain. To ensure transparency, an annual meeting of the committee is held where progress report is shared with villagers along with a record of collections and spending.

While visiting different streets, one can see small homes of laborers and farmers, as well as the bungalows of landlords. They are all availing the same basic facilities. Though a majority of the village population belongs to Nizamani community, it is also home to many other castes and tribes. There is peace among Muslims and Hindus without any discrimination. This village is united and multicultural at the same time.

Literacy ratio of the village is better than many other villages and towns of rural Pakistan. Many youngsters of the area are serving in the private as well as government sector after completing their basic education from this very village and higher education from some of the top universities of Pakistan.

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