An adult is generally known as an individual above the age of 21. Adult education in this case is defined as teaching skills to adults. The reason it is different as compared to teaching to children is that the main purpose for children is to go to school and learn, they are principally students while adults are principally bread winners, hence in their case education it is second in significance. The main purpose of adult education programs is to see that every individual in the state knows at least reading, writing and basic arithmetic, such knowledge is essential for everyone, especially in a democracy. Literacy of adults also involves teaching about their rights and responsibilities as citizens, hence adult literacy is the concept that no one can completely be happy or satisfied unless the person is educated.
In Pakistan however it has been observed that the implementation of literacy policy provisions have been low due to many causes like scarcity of resources, low capacity and political will. Adult literacy programs need to be initiated immediately especially in the rural farming areas of the country. Agriculture being one of the largest industrial sectors of the country, there needs to be detailed information and literacy about modern ways of farming, irrigation, sowing, ploughing, reaping and fertilising the land for greater productivity of the sector. This sector needs education programs to create jobs and grow as it contributes around 48 percent to the GDP, therefore literacy of farmers is essential.
There have been many adult literacy and non-formal education programs and projects initiated since 1997 – 1998 both in Public and Private Sectors. Public Sector programmes include the project of the National Commission for Human Development; Punjab Literacy and Non-formal Education department; Elementary Education Foundation NWFP and National Education Foundation. There have been many efforts taken by NGOs a well to improve adult literacy in many rural areas.
With regard to the financing of adult literacy and non-formal education, it can be said that this area is neglected by the government from the beginning. The current resource gap for literacy exceeds 80 percent, for such a densely populated country the government is providing hardly around 2 billion rupees per annum when the need for literacy programs is around 15 billion rupees per annum (as per the estimates of National Plan of Action).
According to the recent available statistics on adult literacy rates the male literacy rate is 67 percent and female literacy rate is 42 percent. Around 56 million adults in Pakistan are illiterate amongst 66 million literate individuals. The literate learners are known to perform satisfactory at level I and below satisfactory at level II and poor at level III. National statistics suggest that adults perform better in reading and arithmetic than in writing skill. According to National reports the priority at this point in Pakistan are the school or children drop outs also known as the illiterate youth aging from 15 to 24 and the illiterate adults aging from 25 to 44.
In order to improve adult literacy in Pakistan there are some issues that need to be addressed, these include capacity building, research, database creation, teachers training, learning material development, better literacy programs and organization of political will. These efforts would help give adult literacy the importance it needs in Pakistan and help this nation on the track of development immensely.