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Functional Literacy: Analysis of Literacy Practices of Female Attendants in Pakistani Context

Dur-e Shahwar, Nazia Suleman, Uzma Sadiq, Safia Siddiqui, Sabahat Mushtaq


William S.Gray (1956) initially defined the term functional literacy for UNESCO. He associated it with the approaches which also covers the successful acquisition of verb, cognitive and computational skills to fulfill not only the practical ends but also the culturally specific ways. So, A person is functionally literate who can engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning of his group and community, and also for enabling him to continue reading, writing and calculating for his own and the community development. (A.M.Thomas, 1983).Functional literacy includes the possession of skills perceived as necessary by a particular individual or group to fulfill their self-determined objective as a family or community member, citizen, consumer, job-holder, or member of religious, social or other associations of their choosing (Haramn, 1984).Self-perceived need and self-determined objectives forms the basis of learning.The reason to review functional literacy through literacy practices of female attendants is that usually attendants are assumed to be devoid of formal education hence apparently lacking in skills (functional literacy) but the ground reality is they perform tasks which involves linguistic competence. So, the current study is an attempt to review the concept of functional literacy and functional literacy competence by analyzing specific literacy practices of female attendants at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi (FJWU). A qualitative approach was used to evaluate and analyses the literacy practices of female attendants. Population of the study comprised of five female attendants at FJWU chosen through random sampling method. Data was collected through semi structured interviews to probe deep in the literacy practices of female attendants. Findings of the study revealed that the literacy practices (dispatching documents, presenting refreshment, receiving keys etc.) of female attendants at FJWU are culture specific and performed through functional skills (verbal, cognitive and computational) by practitioner's self-determined objects (support family, perform the task accurately, get HODs approval, job benefits) formulated under practitioner's perception (precision and accuracy will result in reward). The study would pave the way for adult education policy makers to comprehend the literary practices of working adults and accordingly to design courses and policies to enhance their capabilities which would ultimately increase their productivity.


functional literacy, self-perception, self-determined objectives, functional competency

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