Punjab Literacy and Livelihood Programme

Country Profile: Pakistan


181,193,000 (2013)

Official Languages

Urdu, Pashto, English, Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi

Poverty (Population living on less than US$2.00 per day)

45% (2013)

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP

2.5 (2013)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

Total: 72.9% (2014)
Male: 78.6%
Female: 66.9%

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

Total: 73.7% (2015)
Male: 80.2%
Female: 66.8%

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 2010 - 2011)

Total: 56.4% (2015)
Male: 69.5%
Female: 42.7%


UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Programme Overview

Programme TitlePunjab Literacy and Livelihood Programme
Implementing OrganizationGovernment of Punjab, Department of Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education
Language of InstructionUrdu
Programme PartnersLocal communities and Punjab Vocational and Technical Council
Date of Inception2009 – 2012

Country Context and Background

Successive Pakistani governments and several local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have made concerted efforts to universalise the provision of basic education through a wide range of policies and programmes, including increased funding of education, a national literacy programme (http://www.unesco.org/uil/litbase/?menu=14&country=PK&programme=66) and the promulgation of a compulsory education law that guarantees every child between the ages of five and 14 years the right to free basic education. Despite these efforts, access to basic education, and, thus, the level of literacy in Pakistan, remains low. Figures from the 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report suggest that while the primary net enrolment ratio has increased from 58% to 74%, “the ratio for girls is still 14 percentage points behind the ratio for boys, leaving only eight girls to every ten boys in primary school”. The number of non-literate adults is equally staggering at 49.5 million and is expected to rise to 51 million by 2015.

School attendance and literacy rates are believed to be even lower in socio-economically disadvantaged and marginalised communities, such as urban slums and rural areas. In addition, there are huge gender disparities with regard to access to basic education, partly reflected in the large disparities between male and female literacy rates across all age groups (see above).

The lack of adequate educational opportunities also prevails within the country’s geographically, economically, demographically and culturally diverse provinces. For instance, Punjab, the largest and most developed province in the country, with a population of 93 million, had about 4 million out-of-school children (aged five to nine years) and about 27.3 million non-literate people (aged 15 years and above) in 2011 (NIPS 2011, MICS 2011, PSLM 2011). The overall adult (15-plus) literacy rate in the province was 57% in 2011, but was believed to be even lower among women and those living in urban slums and rural areas. As with the rest of the country, efforts to promote universal access to basic education are hindered by several factors, such as poverty, mismanagement, entrenched socio-cultural practices like early marriages, acute shortages of educational resources, and opposition to ‘modern’ or secular education by religious conservatives. In order to address this situation and its overall impact on development and the general standard of living, as well as to achieve the planned 100% literacy rate in the province by 2020, the Government of Punjab (GoP), through the Department of Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education (DLNFBE), with financial and technical support from central government and several local and international NGOs (see above), initiated the integrated Non-Formal Education Programmes (NFEP).

The NFEP comprises the following programmes:

These programmes work together to create access to sustainable, high-quality literacy and vocational skills learning opportunities for the citizens of Punjab, especially for those living in impoverished urban slums and rural areas. The NFEP complements national efforts towards Education for All to combat the issues of low levels of education, poverty and to promote peace and socio-economic development in the province. Accordingly, the NFEP primarily targets non-literate people in socio-economically disadvantaged areas and marginalised population groups, such as women, out-of-school youth and ethnic minorities. In order to effectively highlight the role and impact of the NFEP in this endeavour, the Punjab Literacy and Livelihood Programme will be analysed in greater detail.


Programme Overview

The Punjab Literacy and Livelihood Programme (PLLP) is an integrated non-formal basic literacy and vocational skills training programme which, as noted above, was instituted in 2009 by the provincial government of Punjab (through the Department of Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education). It was implemented in the divisions of D.G. Khan and Multan, with a particular focus on socio-economically disadvantaged urban slums and rural communities where rates of illiteracy, poverty and youth unemployment are significantly higher than the provincial average.

The PLLP sought to provide basic literacy and vocational skills training services to about 7,500 non-illiterate and semi-literate people (aged 16 to 40) living in socio-economically disadvantaged communities in order to address the issue of illiteracy and to promote development in the province. The programme primarily targeted people between the ages of 16 and 40 years because they constitute a population segment that can be productively empowered and employed to facilitate development in the entire province. As such, the fundamental goal of the PLLP was to create sustainable literacy and livelihood (or income-generating) training opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalised people. Accordingly, the PLLP provided learners with literacy and contextually relevant livelihood and life skills training covering a range of themes, such as:

The integration of the livelihood or vocational skills training component into the curriculum was primarily intended to equip learners with the necessary skills to address their diverse existential needs and, thus, to provide them with an added incentive for participating in the programme. Without the promise of gaining a valuable vocational skill and, ultimately, earning a livelihood after participating in the programme, the learners would not have been motivated to join the programme.



The primary goal of the PLLP was to promote development and social empowerment in the Punjab province by enhancing people’s literacy and livelihood skills. More specifically, the PLLP aimed to:

Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies

Institutional Arrangements and Partnerships

In order to ensure the efficient and sustainable implementation of the PLLP, the DLNFBE established the Project Management Unit (PMU). The PMU worked in close partnership with the District Education Offices, local communities and NGOs to spearhead the practical implementation of the programme at community level.

Development of Teaching-Learning Materials

As noted above, the PLLP curriculum and teaching and learning materials were designed and developed by the DLNFBE, with the technical and professional assistance of Punjab Vocational Technical Council (PVTC). These materials were distributed free of charge to all learners so as to make the programme more attractive, to facilitate its efficient and sustainable implementation and to enable learners to continue learning after graduating from the programme.

Recruitment and Training of Facilitators

The acute shortage of professional educators is one of the major challenges inhibiting the provision of basic education in Pakistan. In order to address this challenge and ensure the sustainable and efficient implementation of the PLLP, the DLNFBE, with support from its institutional partners, recruited school graduates to act as community-based facilitators or trainers. The facilitators were recruited through an open, merit-based process and provided with formal induction and ongoing in-service professional training in various aspects of non-formal education including:

Once trained, each facilitator was entrusted to train an average of 30 learners under the supervision of the PMU officials and district educational officers. They were also required to assist the DLNFBE in recruiting learners, evaluating the learning outcomes on an ongoing basis and mobilising local communities to actively participate in the implementation of the programme. Each facilitator was paid a stipend of PKR 3,000 per month for these services.

Recruitment of Learners

Various community-based strategies, such as public awareness and advocacy campaigns through mass media and public meetings, were employed to encourage potential learners to enrol in the programme. Since the primary goal of the PLLP was to create basic learning opportunities for illiterate, semi-illiterate and disadvantaged segments of the population, the actual recruitment of learners placed little emphasis on their prior learning or level of literacy. Socio-economic background, age and interest in learning and in promoting community development were the main parameters for enrolment in the programme.


Teaching-Learning Approaches and Methods

PLLP was an integrated basic literacy and livelihood, or vocational skills, programme. As such, learners were expected to participate in both the literacy and vocational skills training classes over a period of six months. Facilitators employed a variety of learner-centred, participatory teaching and learning methods, such as group discussions, question-and-answer sessions, and role-playing games. Upon completion of the training programme, learners were supported in establishing income-generation projects in their area of trade.

Programme Impact and Challenges

Monitoring and Evaluation

The DLNFBE employed internal and external mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the PLLP in order to ensure that the objectives of the programme were achieved within the planned schedule. The Capacity Building Project monitored progress of all project activities and shared it with the Secretary for Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education. The project activities were monitored regularly by PMU and field staff. External mid-term and final evaluations were conducted by the Punjab Economic Research Institute (PERI).


Various evaluation studies were conducted at the completion of each project. They show that the Non-Formal Literacy Education Programmes (NFLEP) have had some positive and lasting impacts on socio-economic development in Punjab. Around 0.81 million out-of-school children, youth and adults (60% of them female) have benefitted from the programmes since their inception. Apart from raising literacy levels in the province, the programmes have also equipped young people and adult learners with skills that have enabled them to earn a decent livelihood and to contribute towards the economic development of their families, communities and the province at large. In other words, the programme has not only promoted community development and social empowerment by improving the incomes and living standards of previously non-literate and unemployed people, but has also facilitated their integration into the mainstream economy.

Similarly, the PLLP has also contributed to raising levels of literacy and promoting community development, poverty alleviation and social empowerment in the divisions of D.G. Khan and Multan. More specifically, the major impacts of the PLLP have been the following:


Despite its major impact, however, numerous challenges were faced by PLLP. These include:


The long-term sustainability of the PLLP model hinges on several critical factors:



Dr. Pervez Ahmed Khan
Secretary of the Department of Literacy and Non-Formal Basic Education
Address: 5th Floor, Alfalah Building, The Mall Road, Lahore 54000
Telephone/Fax: 0092-42-99205412, 99205411