While more Afghan children are attending school than ever before, literacy remains a critical problem. Up to 50% of school aged boys and almost 80% of girls are still unable to read and write. Without these skills, these children are doomed to a life of poverty (and especially for boys), more vulnerable to extremist elements as they grow older.
HTAC's "Read Afghanistan" program has helped thousands of Afghan children acquire and improve their reading skills. Our original, bilingual and illustrated books are not only improving reading levels among enrolled children by over 80%, they're also teaching and reinforcing positive values (like showing respect, taking personal responsibility for actions, helping others, and aspiring to a worthy vocation.
Earlier this year, students at Sorya Girls School, in Kabul (an HTAC-supported school), read and discussed one of these wonderful books - "A Rose for Leyla" which tells the inspiring story of an Afghan girl who dreams of one day becoming a doctor so she can help her village.
Students at the school not only shared the story with their families, but put on a mini-play to re-enact life-chaning scenes from the book. For many of these girls, Leyla became an inspiration to finish their education, acquire skills, and do something meaningful in their lives.
HTAC's "Read Afghanistan" program is funded totally by individual donations. By supporting this program, you are helping to change an Afghan child's life forever.
Despite the encouraging headlines that more Afghan girls are enrolled in school than prior years, the sad truth is too many of these girls drop out of school due to the economic hardship their families face and all-too-often, are forced into early marriage and childbearing.
This unfortunate scenario seemed to be the story of 9th grader Asia, a bright, talented student who dreamed of one day learning the computer, but her school lacked a computer facility and classes. Asia knew of a computer course not that far from her neighborhood, but it was not free and her parents were poor. A high school in another district did offer classes for students, but leaving her neighborhood was very dangerous as security for girls was poor.
When her family decided to move to a safer district, Asia's life changed dramatically. The school Asia enrolled in had a computer laboratory and a caring teacher who took Asia under her wing. Although she had never touched a computer in her life, within a year Asia had mastered Windows, MS Word, MS Excel and Power Point. Her teacher was astounded. Never had she seen a girl progress so rapidly in gaining computer skills and applying them so effectively. In addition, Asia became a unofficial computer coach and mentor for many of the other girls in her class.
By the time Asia entered the 12th grade, her remarkable achievements had caught the attention of the Behzad Institute of Computer and English Language in Kabul and after a stellar interview, she was hired to become a computer instructor. Needless to say, Asia's parents are extremely proud and the money Asia earns goes a long way to help her family economically.
HTAC is proud to support the computer education program at Asia's school. Afghan girls can do remarkable things if we given them a chance.
The new school year began in Afghanistan in late March and this year, another 2,760 Afghan high school girls enrolled in HTAC's well-regarded computer education program. To date, 24,717 girls have enrolled in this life-changing course.
Girls (like boys) learn all key computer skills- Windows, Word, Excel, Power-Point (and for those schools equipped), how to navigate the internet. To make computer learning both fun and meaningful, students get to use the computer to complete school assignments and work on various projects. For a recent cultural exchange project, a class of girls researched the state and town of their American sister school. Becoming computer literate by the time these girls graduate is critical if they are to have an opportunity to seek productive jobs in Afghanistan's expanding information technology marketplace.
Abdullah Bin-Omar (or ABO) was established as a model school, one of the first of its kind in Afghanistan, by HTAC in a beautiful, but vastly underserved district (Paghman), about 30 miles West of Kabul, the capital, surrounded by foothills and impressive mountains peaks in the distance.
Before the school was built, children had their lessons outside; sometimes having to sit under a hot blazing sun in the Summer or braving the cold temperatures in the late Fall and early Winter. Yet, the students came because of their own thirst for knowledge and because their parents believed in an education (and a future) for their children.
Today, ABO has become a flagship model school, boasting 26 classrooms, 7 administrative rooms, a deep well for clean drinking water and 12 sanitary latrines. ABO also has a computer laboratory that can accommodate up to 14 students at a time. The Lab. is also used to provide computer application training for teachers and administrative staff.
Currently, 1,497 students (781 girls and 716 boys) attend classes in 2 shifts. The school employs 43 female and male teachers. HTAC supplements the standard (required) curriculum with such programs as: peace education, environmental education, and a unique bilingual literacy program called "Read Afghanistan", which is having a big impact on improving the literacy comprehension levels of many primary and middle school aged students. Each year, selected students participate in cultural exchange projects with American 'sister schools'.
For physical exercise, students participate in soccer, volleyball and a playground- built from private donations.
At HTAC model schools, Afghan children are given opportunities to show their talent, creativity, opinions and feelings. Earlier this year, 13 students at Rokhshana Girls School in Kabul, Afghanistan participated in a special creative writing project where they wrote essays and short stories about one of Afghanistan's endangered species - the snow leopard.
The project was part of a collaborative effort between HTAC and one of our partners, Dot-to-Dot Children's Books, a non-profit publishing company, whose writing team took these essays and created a unique, illustrated children's book called "The Snow Leopard Dream".
These young Afghan girls who helped author the book are prominently featured in the book as role models for generations of youth around the world as well as HTAC founder, Suraya Sadeed.
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