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ISLAMABAD, Sept 7: Conflicts and violence deprive children and adults of the crucial opportunity of literacy. According to Unesco, countries affected by conflicts are home to over 40 per cent of the world’s out-of-school population of primary school age.

At the same time, conflict remains one of the major barriers to the attainment of the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

International Literacy Day being commemorated on Saturday has a special focus this year on the fundamental relationship between literacy and peace.

According to the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2012, Pakistan’s GPI score has improved modestly in 2011, in part because of a further easing of the overall security situation from the violence verging on civil war that engulfed much of the country in 2009.

GPI which ranks nations according to their level of peacefulness is published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Fewer suicide-bombing attacks and a reduction in sectarian violence were reflected in lower tallies for three GPI indicators: terrorist acts, the level of organised internal conflict and estimated deaths from internal conflict.  However, conflict between various militant separatists and the government over the status of Balochistan continued and ethnic violence escalated in Sindh.

In a statement, Unesco Director-General Irina Bokova said lasting peace depends on the development of literate citizenship and access to education for all.  Amidst political upheaval and escalating violence in many parts of the world, literacy must be a priority in the peace-building agenda of all nations, she said.

Unesco estimates that the global adult illiterate population stands at 775 million, while there are still 122 million illiterate youth worldwide. Women and girls make up nearly two thirds of the illiterate adult and youth population, thereby great potential is being lost.

Unesco has listed Pakistan among the 10 countries where majority of illiterates live. The other countries are Congo, Indonesia, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, China and India.

Education indicators show that Pakistan is well below the targets of MDGs envisaged for 2015. Major challenges and deficiencies are being faced by the current educational system that hinders attainment of MDG targets.

Among the deficiencies listed by the Planning Commission are weak governance, limited access to educational facilities, poor quality of education and lack of gender equality.

To mark the day, a literacy walk was organised by Islamabad Crescent Lions Club here on Friday.

The National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) will organise a literacy walk on Saturday starting from China Chowk to conclude at the Parade Chowk.