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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