Tucked into a remote corner of Pakistan's Punjab province, one small village has achieved two milestones few developed countries can boast.
With a 100% literacy rate and 0% crime rate, the village of Rasool Pur celebrated International Literacy Day on Sept. 8 with people congratulating each other and showing appreciation for school teachers for their firm commitment toward education.
Speaking exclusively to Anadolu Agency (AA), Mehtaab Jahan, the principal of the Government Girls High School Rasool Pur, said: "I was transferred here two years ago and was amazed by the remarkable sense of responsibility of the people. No one litters on the road; the whole village is a non-smoking zone."
Rasool Pur has a population of 2,000-3,000 people, with most of its residents being ethnic Ahmadani Baloch. Their ancestors migrated from Pakistan's Balochistan province to the district of Southern Punjab in 1933-34.
At the time, they had no permanent source of income, so education became their tool to earn a living.
The village has two high schools and a primary school. After students complete high school, they go to a college in the nearest township of Jampur city, which is 8-10 kilometers (5-6 miles) away.
"I have 300 girls in my school and there is almost the same number of students in the boys' school. We do not believe in how the United Nations defines literacy – as the ability to sign one's name. Every person here has to finish high school, otherwise, the elders do not give them permission to participate in the society," said Jahaan.
According to the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey, the literacy rate of the country's population was 60% in 2019-20, having remained stagnant since 2014-15.
While explaining the social behavior of the people, Mehtaab Jahan shed light on the most important factor that contributes to the achievement of a 100% literacy rate.
"All the women of the village are educated here. This shows that they understand the importance of women's education. This is the main reason that all children, as soon as they reach the age of 4-5, start their education," said Jahaan.
The village has its own league called the Rasool Pur Development Society, which is responsible for collecting donations for the people who cannot afford education. Society also makes sure that no one drops out of school.
Jampur Assistant Commissioner Muhammad Farooq also spoke of the importance of this village regarding how Pakistan is viewed around the world.
"This village is representing Pakistan's actual image in the whole world. They contribute in making it possible for everyone to get an education and maintain a clean and friendly environment to live in."
To encourage the children and their parents to continue this decade-old commitment toward education, a yearly function has been organized by the community in which they celebrate students who have achieved positions in competitive university-level exams.
Dilawar Saleem, a resident of Rasool Poor, said: "Encouraging the students and showing them the success stories of their elder siblings make them achieve even higher goals."
Meanwhile, a 100% literacy rate is not the village's only achievement. The police station of this model village has not registered a single criminal case in the last 100 years, which shows how being responsible for other people's rights is everyone's concern.
"We have a strong network of communication among us passed down by our ancestors. No one tries to cross the line when it comes to maintaining law and order. This is the rule that has enabled us to attain a 0% crime rate in our village," Saleem told AA.
According to the Pakistan Economic Survey, the Punjab government has allocated 34.6 billion rupees ($203.5 million) for 110 ongoing and 29 new development projects in the education sector during 2020-21.
Punjab's Education Minister Murad Raas told AA: "It is a commendable effort done with the engagement of the whole community where the importance of education is exercised with great vigilance and compassion. This is how we envision the expansion of modern civilization, with education regarded as the fundamental right of every child and adequate steps are taken towards its expansion. We strive to implement the model in rural, remote rural and urban centers of Punjab."
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