PESHAWAR: The United States Library of Congress Friday announced the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) literacy program, “Pakistan Reading Project,” as the 2020 recipient of the International Literacy Program of the Year.

Over the past seven years, and working in tandem with Pakistani education officials, USAID’s Pakistan Reading Project has improved the reading skills of 1.7 million Pakistani students by delivering reading instructional materials to classrooms, training teachers in new instruction techniques, and encouraging schools to dedicate more classroom time for reading. This early grade literacy project has also worked closely with the Government of Pakistan to improve policies and systems for early grade reading across national, provincial, and local levels, says a press release.

“We’re very honored and pleased that the Pakistan Reading Project is this year’s Library of Congress recipient of this International Literacy Award,” said USAID/Pakistan Mission Director Julie Koenen. “The program has proved to be a cornerstone of our partnership with Pakistan in education by increasing the literacy rates across the country and improving the reading of so many Pakistani students.”

In 2013, the Library of Congress created the Literacy Awards to honor organizations working to promote literacy and reading in the United States and internationally. The project’s implementing partner, the International Relief Committee, will receive $50,000 from the Library of Congress for winning this.

The USAID-funded Pakistan Reading Project (PRP), implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and its partners (Creative Associates International, World Learning, and Institute of Rural Management), is a seven-year project with the objective to support the provincial and regional departments of education (DoE) throughout Pakistan to improve the reading skills of children in grades one and two. The project aims to achieve this goal through three components that work in synergy to affect the quality of early grade education: improved classroom learning environment for reading, improved policies and systems for reading, and improved community-based support for reading in Pakistan.

The project is improving the quality of teaching and assessment of reading by supporting improvements to teachers’ pre-service education, providing a model for continuous professional development for in-service teachers, and making supplemental instructional materials more widely available to primary school teachers.