Education may seem like a simple action in a nation ravaged by war for the last several decades, but we have seen tremendous change in the status of girls and women. Providing quality education experiences is about more than just getting more girls into the classroom, it is about empowering them to be free, creative thinkers who can engage in the public discussion of their country’s culture and politics and be respected and heard. We are a long ways off from achieving our goals of gender parity in the Afghanistan education system, but we continue to see tremendous growth in our capability to make this a reality.
We recently hosted a short story competition at one of our schools, where students were encouraged to write a short story about their life. More than 30 were submitted from 10th through 12th graders. The goal of this competition was to allow students to write stories using their unique voice about their own experiences or life around the village. In addition, students were required to read outside books to help with create a short story. Together these goals encouraged reading and general knowledge, as well as promoting creativity and empowerment by allow the children to raise their own voice and write about the situation.
The stories we received shocked and awed us. The titles were as diverse as “The Merchant Daughter” to “Regret is Useless,” Forces Marriages,” and “Unchastity.” The outpouring for this competition highlights the need to creative outlets in education and further opportunities for students to have their opinion heard.
More than half-way through the construction of our 11th school, Ayni has been researching new ways to improve our service and make our mission more effective. This month has seen a focus on the effects of early marriage on education and how we can reverse this trend. Over 39% of women are married by 18 in Afghanistan. This leads to a lack of education, maternal and infant health problems, and violence. Currently we are trying to pursue strategic partnerships and engages communities in informational programs in order to raise awareness and address this problem.
You can read more about child marriage here:
All this work would not be possible without your help. We are so thankful every day for the donor support we continue to receive. We look forward to more innovative progress in the future.
"This is a brilliant opportunity, this computer class for me to learn skills I can use." Armina, a student in 11th grade in Mazar-i-Sharif, Northern Afghanistan
Your dollars have funded a new laptop computer for girls in our new computer center in northern Afghanistan. With your help, we were able to accomplish our goal of providing one of our new computer centers in Balkh Province with another laptop, serving girls who will soon complete their secondary education and who are in dire need of computer skills. We also chose girls in grade 5 and 6 to begin their computer education as studies have indicated that at these ages, girls (whether in the US or in Afghanistan) are impacted in math, science and technology. Our program introduces the girls to the basics of technology. Amina is in a school with three sessions of computer classes for a total of 120 students per day learning technical skills.
Each computer we fund will be allocated to a center like the one Armina studies in. Ayni Education International currently operates three such centers and will open a third center in October 2014 for an additional 120 girls.
The Power of A Technical Education
One computer can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of girls by improving their opportunities for higher education and employment. We have observed that training girls in fundamental computers skills increases the likelihood that they will stay in school longer and eventually graduate, effectively delaying their marriages and fostering their independence. And if they do marry, we've also observed that their husbands and fathers want them to continue their computer studies because the future rests in technology especially in the urban environment of Mazar-i-Sharif where two of our centers are located.
A third urban center at the Gohar Khaton Girls' School will be opened in September 2014.
Tayeba, a 9th grade student said: “I am very excited to go to a new school with a modern library and computer laboratory room. I always wished to have a beautiful class in the school. I have seen students in the films that went to modern schools with computers. I hope our class will be like this next year." Tayeba wants to be a doctor in the future just as her own father is to serve the people of Afghanistan.
Why Literacy Includes Computers
Furthermore, if a girl is proficient in applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and if she is able to navigate the Internet, then she will be better prepared to enter the workforce or continue on to some form of higher education. Since the implementation of our computer literacy program in 2008, yearly enrollment rates have increased significantly, from approximately 1,000 students to 13,400 in 2014 year-to-date. This is the power of a single computer for girls in Afghanistan as they join a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected and where information is easily accessible. A computer will allow these girls to learn about international events and will promote cross-cultural understanding and respect.
A Long-Lasting Impact
Your impact on these girls’ technical education will endure, as one computer will impact approximately 100 girls enrolled in the course every year at the center. The computer will be available for girls to operate for years to come.
“Only 20 percent of Afghanistan is electrified; it’s only 20 percent illiterate,” says Paul Brinkley, the former United States deputy undersecretary of defense. “But 60 percent have a cellphone. What does this tell you about the Afghan people? They’re starving for information. You need that more to stabilize this country than all the security things you could do.”
Thank you again for supporting our innovative strategy of providing girls in northern Afghanistan with vocational skills while broadening their worldviews with computers. Your dollars will shape the lives of hundreds of Afghan girls who dream of advancing their skills to become more productive and involved in the political, economic, and social life of their country.
"I've waited for my chance to study computers. I've seen my sister taking the course and I was too young. Now it is my turn and I am very excited. Thank you for giving me the chance," Shabona
Your dollars have funded a new laptop computer for girls in our new computer center in northern Afghanistan. With your help, we were able to accomplish our goal of providing one of our new computer centers in Balkh Province with another laptop, serving girls who will soon complete their secondary education and who are in dire need of computer skills. We also chose girls in grade 5 and 6 to begin their computer education as studies have indicated that at these ages, girls (whether in the US or in Afghanistan) are impacted in math, science and technology. Our program introduces the girls to the basics of technology.
Each computer we fund will be allocated to the center that most needs it.