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
Nov 17, 2011

National peace education program gains momentum

Afghan boys learn about peace
Afghan boys learn about peace

It began with a question and a vision from HTAC's executive director and founder, Suraya Sadeed.  For generations, Afghan children have grown up in a culture where they have known nothing but war, violence, and aggression.  Why are we not teaching them about peace?

From those early days in 2002, when HTAC helped sponsor some of Afghanistan's first peace education workshops for teachers, the dream of implementing formal peace educaiton courses into Afghanistan's national curriculum has now taken a huge step towards becoming a reality.

In recognition of our leadership and track record in implementing results-based peace education programs in five provinces for over 53,000 students, Afghanistan's Ministry of Education endorsed HTAC's recommendation to develop a national school-based peace education progrram for all Afghan public schools.

This will be a huge undertaking and will involve strong educational partners as well as support from institutional as well as individual donors, but based on what we have seen in the field over the past 9 years, the implementation of a national peace education curriculum will have a dramatic effect, not just with children, but with teachers, parents, and entire communities

For vulnerable Afghan children, especially boys, learning about peace will be life-changing.  Many of them will learn how to cope with the emotional trauma they've suffered in witnessing or even experiencing violence first hand.  They'll learn how to accept and respect different ethnic groups and replace fighting and harassment with non-violent conflict resolution skills and cooperation.  Most importantly, they'll learn to reject violence and extremism and embrace the principles of peaceful, everyday living.

Thousands of Afghan teachers who have never had formal training will learn to abandon counter-productive corporal punishment practices as a way to motivate students and replace those behaviors with positive role modeling.  Parents will learn how to reinforce peace education in the home and establish an environment of good communication and trust with their children.  Local communities will help ensure the lessons of mediation, cooperation and problem-solving (all learned in peace education) will carry far beyond the classroom and into neighborhood councils and Shuras.

HTAC is working hard to make peace education, not just a program, but a way of life for the next generation of Afghans.

Aug 24, 2011

3 successful schools returned to government

Ajani Malika High School, Samangan Province
Ajani Malika High School, Samangan Province

After establishing and successfully operating four community-based model schools in Smangan Province for 7 years, HTAC reached an exciting milestone earlier this year when we turned over three of these four schools back to Afghanistan's Ministry of Education.  The three schools - Joi Zhwandoon High School, Ajani Malika High School, and Ayencha Middle School, have a combined average yearly enrollment of 6,428 students (4,768 girls).  HTAC maintains our presence in Samangan by continuing to support Aybak High School.

This successful transition is part of HTAC's overall strategy of acquiring schools in need; expanding and enriching the existing educational curriculum; improving the skills of teachers and school administrators; and finally teaching self-governance.  This process allows the schools, parents, and local communities to take greater ownership in the welfare of their children's educational future; one of the key building blocks in helping Afghanistan rebuild a civil society.

For our three departing schools, HTAC leaves a lasting legacy- fully functioning computer laboratories and trained computer instructors who will introduce information technology to thousands of girls and boys; peace and environmental education programs that will help Afghan youth reject violence, embrace the principles of peace, and learn to care for their precious environment; and a unique literacy program - introducing younger children original bilingual storybooks and the motivation for them to learn how to read or improve their reading skills.

Most importantly, HTAC was able to to help teachers and the parents of these school children forge new and positive relationships that will strengthen their educational bond and reinforce the value of learning in the home.  In many of these communities, there is nothing more heartwarming for an Afghan mother or father to hear their son or daughter read them a story or share a new lesson learned. 

Children and their parents are committed to learning and HTAC is here to help them on that journey.  Our donors are critical in continuing that support.

Aug 24, 2011

Ellaha's story - an Afghan girl promotes peace

Ellaha - peace education student
Ellaha - peace education student

Ellaha is a seventh grade student who attends school in the Paghman District of Afghanistan, about 30 miles west of Kabul.  Recently, Ellaha was introduced to HTAC's peace education program.  This is her story.

"My name is Ellaha, daughter of Mohammad Yousuf.  I am a student of grade seven at Paghman Girls High School and I wanted to share the very positive impact of peace education in my life and the life of my family.

I have three brothers.  They are all married and we all live together.  The conflicts between the wives of my brothers went on almost daily, creating such tension that my mom and dad were exhausted- physically and emotionally.  My younger sisters and I were often terrified over these conflicts.  The shouting and abuse was almost unbearable.  The wives had no way of communicating with one another in a respectful manner and my brothers unfortunately did not know how to intervene.  Life was horrible at home.

Luckily, during my first week of school, one of our teachers came to our class and announced a new program.  It was called 'peace education'.  At first, what this class could teach me so I was cautious about it.  I did not want to get my hopes up too high.  However, as the weeks went by, I was surprised at the many positive things I was learning about in class.  Most importantly, I learned the skills of non-violent conflict resolution, which we practiced in class.  Soon, I became quite good as a mediator and in fact, I was asked by my teacher to be one of the few peer student mediators for the program where I would help my fellow students peacefully resolve their differences.  This made me feel happy and accomplished.

One day, I decided to try my mediation skills at home.  I found an opportunity to talk with each of my brother's wives (when they were not busy fighting) and explained to them there was a better way to resolve disagreements.  At first they did not believe me.  One of my brother's wives even laughed at me.  You are so young, she said.  What can you teach me?  But eventually, I was able to change her opinion by helping her and another wife resolve a very bitter dispute.  Afterwards, she came to me and gave me a hug.  Thank you, she said.  I'm sorry I didn't trust you.  I made her promise she would use the steps of non-violent conflict resolution the next time she was having a problem. 

Within a couple of weeks, all the violent arguments had stopped.  Yes, there are still problems and disputes, but they are handled in a calm, respectful manner where everyone uses the same approach.  My brothers' wives now treat me like their sister and my parents look to me as the official family mediator.  I express my gratitude to HTAC and its supporters for such a useful program."

HTAC is helping students like Ellaha learn the principles of peaceful everyday living and changing their lives for the better.

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