Monday, 17 October 2016

Mind your language

by Hussain Bux Mallah

Using language for politics is not new.
A WWII poster discouraging the use of 'enemy' language
Photo credit: Wikipedia/Una Storia Segreta

There has been an increasing recognition of the role of language in learning and children’s intellectual development. Research has shown that children whose primary language is different to the language of instruction in school are more likely to drop out or fail in early grades. Studies have also shown that children’s first language is the optimal language for literacy and learning throughout primary school. In Pakistan, where retention rates are abysmal and students in the public education system perform poorly (data from NEMIS reports a literacy rate of 58% and class five retention rate of 69%), it is important to reflect on the role of language as one of the key drivers of learning outcomes.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Plugging the gaps between farm and fork

by Samar Zuberi and Rashid Mehmood

Increased production does not mean improved diets for the undernourished
Photo credit: Flickr/Asian Development Bank

Nutrition has been an increasing concern in Pakistan for almost half a decade. The release of the 2011 National Nutrition Survey showed no improvement in nutrition indicators in decades, and highlighted alarming rates of undernutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies. These results alongside a strong international push to re-focus on nutrition have succeeded in placing nutrition higher on the policy agenda within Pakistan. Pakistan has recently adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were proceeded by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). SDG #2 aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Busting the myth of a 'hatta katta' Pakistan

by The Collective’s Research to Action team

George Segal, Depression Bread Line sculpture, 1991
Photo credit: Wikipedia/Public domain pictures

No one in Pakistan sleeps on an empty stomach. Myth. There is plenty for everyone. Also a myth. Half of Pakistani households experienced hunger in the last year. Over 40 per cent of Pakistani children under five are malnourished. So why do we never hear about this? And what can we do to bring this to light in policy making and political processes? Haris Gazdar raised this at a panel discussion ‘Does Climate Change Worsen Hunger?’ at Habib University last month. The panel featured a keynote speech by Professor Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Food and reactions by Professor Richard Falk, director of Climate Change, Human Security and Democracy Project at the Orfalea Center, University of California Santa Barbara and Mr. Gazdar. The panel was moderated by Dr. Muhammad Haris, Assistant Professor, Social Development and Policy, at Habib University.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Is the Minimum Wage a ‘Living Wage’ in Pakistan?

by Kabeer Dawani

A worker stitches a football at a stitching center in rural Sialkot
Photo credit: Collective team

In June 2016, while announcing their budgets for the 2016-17 fiscal year, the federal government and all the provincial governments increased the monthly minimum wage for unskilled workers from Rs.13,000 to Rs.14,000. Similar increases in the minimum wage have been made in previous years as well, and as far as we know, no criteria on needs or cost of living are used to determine the minimum wage. Given that these increases are arbitrary, the question arises: is the minimum wage even sufficient for a worker and his/her family to live a basic but decent life?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Coercion inside the home

by Haris Gazdar and Ayesha Khan

Domestic workers in the 14th century
Photo credit: Wikipedia commons

Bonded labour constitutes one of the gravest violations of individual human rights. It is perceived — both at the popular level, as well as among legislators and the judiciary — as akin to slavery. Yet, bonded labour often comes disguised in a web of legitimate ‘voluntary’ economic transactions mediated through social control. Haris Gazdar and Ayesha Khan explored bonded labour in domestic work and begging in a chapter in the book ‘Bonded Labour in Pakistan’. The book is edited by Ayaz Qureshi and Ali Khan and published by the Oxford University Press. An excerpt of the chapter was recently featured in Dawn’s Books and Authors. An even shorter version with a focus on rural domestic work is reproduced here.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Immortalizing Edhi

by Noorulain Masood

Edhi (1928-2016): Mural in Karachi dedicated to Edhi
Photo credit: Collective team

Edhi died on the 8th of this month. Just twenty days later, media coverage and social calendars that were packed with commemorations have already gone sparse. The cruel reality of our times: nothing lasts forever. But Edhi has to be kept alive.

Monday, 18 July 2016

My choice or not?

by Sidra Mazhar

Women returning from fields after a hard day's work
Photo credit: Flickr/Khalid Mir

Agricultural practices and interventions affects nutrition of women, children and the entire household through various pathways and it is interesting to note that women empowerment, though much neglected, has a significant role to play when it comes to improving nutrition. To understand this link, I recently attended a webinar on “Women’s nutrition through an empowerment lens” organized by Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) and Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA). The webinar explored the impact of women empowerment on women’s and their children’s nutrition. It detailed the effects of women empowerment in livestock-focused-agriculture followed by an investigation of women empowerment in nutrition index.