Help The Afghan Children

Our mission is to help Afghan children become educated, healthy, and productive citizens who are able to fully contribute to building Afghanistan's civil society. We accomplish this by working with supporting partners to establish model community-based schools in different regions of Afghanistan; by providing training to local educators to enhance their professional capacities; and by developing and introducing innovative learning programs
Jun 19, 2013

Community dialogues keep Afghan boys in school

Qanjugha villagers dialogue with school officials
Qanjugha villagers dialogue with school officials

At first, the parents in Qanjugha Village (Afghanistan) were delighted that their sons were attending the new boys' high school, which had been a long time in coming.  Qanjugha, one of many outlying settlements about six miles northeast of Shiberghan City in vastly underserved Jouzjan Province, had hoped for its own local school for years and with a new school finally established, parents and other villagers had reason to rejoice.

Anticipation, however, soon turned to concern for the parents.  Their sons were coming home from school complaining that their teachers "did not know how to teach" and that they were not learning anything.  The parents and village elders attempted to meet with school officials, but were turned away without an explanation.  Angered that the officials were not interested in hearing their concerns, the parents began making arrangements for their sons to attend another school, even though it was further away and more difficult to reach.

Help the Afghan Children provided a workable intervention for the students, parents and school officials.  As we investigated the problem, we discovered that the local teachers understood their subjects, but  lacked basic facilitation skills in delivering quality instruction.  However, we also discovered that parents and other concerned villagers had consistently been left out of the communication process with school officials, making them feel disrespected.

HTAC began working on two tracks.  The first was to provide targeted teacher training workshops to better equip teachers in learning new ways to transfer knowledge and facilitate better learning.  The second was establishing a framework for community/school dialogues where parents and other villagers could regularly meet with school officials and teachers, raise issues, get feedback and agree on ways to resolve problems and misperceptions.

To prevent meetings from dissolving into endless arguing, dialogue was structure to get the community and the school working together in seeking practical solutions with the goal of identifying a solution (or) making a decision for action at each meeting.

After several months of training the teachers and providing guidance at meetings, HTAC is pleased to report that the great majority of boys have returned to school and, for the first time, are enjoying their classes.  There is still more work to be done at Qanjugha, but students are more motivated and parents are pleased that they are now full participants in community/school dialogues with school officials.

Jun 19, 2013

Peace education program achieves milestone

peace education in action
peace education in action

For years, significant barriers have prevented any meaningful effort in providing much needed peace education to millions of deserving Afghan youth.  Because there has not been a clear directive and strategy about peace education from Afghanistan's Ministry of Education, many organizations working in Afghanistan have continued to pursue their individual peace education programs and initiatives without much coordination.  Despite the good intentions of these organizations, peace education is not delivered and taught in a consistent manner.

All of that is beginning to change, now that HTAC's is piloting Afghanistan's first national school-based peace education curriculum.  Our initiative, endorsed by the Ministry's Curriculum Department represents months of intensive research and development where our team of educators has redesigned HTAC's (already successful) peace education program, including a complete curriculum for Afghan public schools, grades 7 through 12.

Within the last 6 months, the new curriculum has been developed and translated into the two major languages of Afghanistan; Dari and Pashto.; several school sites in Jouzjan Province (one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces) have been targeted to receive the new curriculum; teachers at these schools have been trained; parents (of enrolled students) have received orientations; and the new program was launched in June of 2013.

The success of this pilot and the final approval of the curriculum by the Ministry will signal and major breakthrough, allowing the eventual delivery of peace education throughout Afghanistan, impacting an estimated 4 million deserving boys and girls.    

Apr 2, 2013

6 schools get new computer program

ceremonies marked the opening of new computer labs
ceremonies marked the opening of new computer labs

Far from the bustling capital of Kabul, Afghanistan lies Farah Province, a vast sparsely-populated and underserved region of the country where many Afghan children and their families do not have access to good schools and services.  Two years ago, Farah was a tinderbox of fighting between NATO and Taliban forces, and thousands of families were forced to flee to refugee camps in the north.

While the Taliban threat remains to some degree, another challenge is giving Afghan youth better access to educational and training resources; especially when it comes to job skills such as computer education.  Today, a huge computer literacy gap exists between youth in Farah Province and those in more developed, urban regions who are gaining greater access to computers and using their skills to find jobs.  Compounding the problem, Afghanistan's Ministry of Education's resources (spread so thin), is unable to make a sufficient investment in Farah.

To begin closing that gap, HTAC launched a program to educate and train an estimated 600 high school boys and girls at six targeted Farah Province schools.  It marks one of the first computer literacy initiatives for students attending public schools in the entire region.  Not only will HTAC equip these students with critical computer skills, but also assist them in seeking computer-related jobs in the area when they graduate.

The program is off to an encouraging start.  Fully-equipped computer laboratories were established at each of the participating schools.  Ceremonies attended by provincial, district, and local school officials as well as students, teachers and parents marked the opening of the new facilities.  In late March, 360 boys and 240 girls from grades 10 through 12 enrolled in the first courses.

If past history serves as any barometer, the lives of the great majority of these students will be changed for the better.  Most-importantly, HTAC's initiative will make it easier for the Ministry of Education to provide future computer education support for thousands of students at these schools in years to come.

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