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GIRLS IN SCHOOL IN EASTERN AFGHANISTAN


My name is Mrs Nazar* and I am the headmistress of a girls' school in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. I came here some years ago and it has brought me great joy to see how my school has grown since then.

Before I arrived, the Taliban was in this area. There were no schools for girls and I am told you rarely saw a girl out of her home. Now my school has approximately 3,300 students.

Richard Wainwright / Act for Peace Image Frame

I employ 54 teachers and they are all female. At the moment I am recruiting two more teachers. To be part of so much change in less than twenty years is a very, very good achievement.

Strong school attendance is due to the work being done in the villages by representatives of CWS-A (Community World Service – Asia). CWS-A has been established in the area since 1997 and they know who to speak with so that girls may be allowed to attend school and be educated. It is simply not enough to have school buildings ready to be used. Without permission from the men of the household, there is not the opportunity for young girls to come to class.

Through your support, CWS-A is able to work with the local Shura Council. The Shura Council is a group of men who are community elders and hold great influence in the local population. Through CWS-A the Shura is actively spending time with those who hold old cultural views and don’t understand the benefits of girls receiving an education.

Some people here think: “Our parents did not allow us to come to school so we won’t allow our children either.” Let me assure you, many are not like this and have good minds and are sending their children to school. On occasion, even the children ask the Shura to come and speak with their parents so they can attend school with their friends. It is a wind of change to see the progress of this work and how far-reaching it is. 

Act for Peace and CWS-A also generously provide these school girls with backpacks filled with school materials. We always ask for more because we have more girls every year. A great blessing!

I have a message for the people of Australia: Thank you very much. I am very happy and proud of what they have done and they have a good feeling for the Afghanistan people. God bless them.

 - Mrs Nazar

* Names have been changed to protect identities
 

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Decades of conflict and repeated cycles of migration and return have hindered the development of a viable education system in Afghanistan’s Eastern Provinces. At present, the provincial and district educational departments struggle to comply with quality standards set by the National Ministry of Education. Security concerns and cultural perceptions and beliefs also combine to limit the numbers of female teachers available for schools and many families, even if not against education for girls, will not permit their daughters to be taught by male teachers after puberty. Many schools do not have usable buildings or access to sanitation or water facilities, further discouraging parents from sending girls to school.

These conditions have resulted in low literacy levels, low enrolment rates for girls, and weakened school systems which are ill-prepared to manage the quality education in schools. Low levels of literacy perpetuate poverty and gender disparities, denying young women the opportunity to learn and take on new development opportunities.

The importance of girls’ education for improving Afghanistan’s overall development situation is well understood. There is a strong correlation between female literacy and a variety of indicators for family health and well-being, including maternal and child health. Access to equitable education has been identified as the single, best development mechanism for improving the lives of the poor as it leads to better quality of health, raises livelihoods, fosters the ability to actively participate in society, and helps to build social resilience.

Additionally, the Constitution of Afghanistan protects the right of women and girls to education (Article 44), and the explicit aim of reducing female illiteracy by 50% is listed in the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan 2008-2018.

Act for Peace is working with our partner Community World Service Asia (CWS-A) in Afghanistan to provide girls with improved access to quality education. This work is carried out across 14 schools in Nangahar and Laghman Provinces in Eastern Afghanistan. Our partner’s work focuses on four key areas, enhancing communities’ capacity to positively support education for girls, improving the quality of education through teacher training and curriculum and facilities development and promoting civic education based on human rights and strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Education to deliver effective educational services for young girls.
 

  • What has been achieved with AfP’s support:

 

  • More than 3,500 young girls were supported to enrol and remain in school

 

  • An increase in support for child rights, gender equality and the right to education amongst hundreds of parents, religious and community leaders

 

  • More than 500 children and teachers attended Summer camps promoting interactive learning outside the school curriculum including concepts of peace, gender, democracy and human rights

 

  • Five training resource centres were established at schools which provide teaching aids and equipment to provide teachers with the tools to deliver lesson plans effectively helping to improve learning outcomes for students

 

  • More than 300 teachers received instructive training to improve their capacity to teach and to mentor other teachers


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