Numbers at a Glance-
• One Afghan child in four dies before her or his fifth
birthday, many of preventable causes.
• About 85% of women give birth at home with untrained
attendants; the number is much higher in rural areas.
• 30% of healthcare facilities are without any women health
professionals: doctors, nurses and midwives.
• 100,000 teachers are needed in Afghanistan, including
48,000-plus new women teachers, if there is to be an
essential increase in girls’ enrollment and retention in school.
• Only one woman teacher in three has the required
education; some 27,000 current teachers will need support
to increase their knowledge and teaching skills.
• The vast majority of rural parents do not understand child
development. According to a recent Save the Children
survey, only 19% of mothers believe play is useful to
promote learning and only 4% believe that it readies a child
for school; no fathers understood that play helped their
children’s cognitive development. Almost all adults think
corporal punishment and verbal berating are acceptable
ways to discipline children.
Rebuilding Education in Afghanistan
Save the Children to renovate 10 schools:
In districts north of Kabul, Save the Children is currently assessing facilities that will be renovated or rebuilt into 10 new schools. The assessment takes into consideration the number of school-age children in the area; whether there are large, safe places to play nearby; the level of community support and interest; and whether girls will be allowed to attend school as well as boys.
Our other educational programs in Afghanistan:
Save the Children has many years of experience in working with Afghan refugees in Pakistan. In recent years, Save the Children, in cooperation with UNICEF, has led a multi-agency campaign to improve the educational environment for Afghan children in Afghanistan and in refugee villages. An “Education for Afghans” initiative assessed educational needs and outlined a strategy for increasing children’s access to education, improving the quality of education, and strengthening the capacity of the education sector.
Subsequent work has involved leading a multi-agency initiative with UNICEF to develop Basic Competencies of learning in mathematics and language (guidelines on what children should know, understand and be able to do at the end of each primary grade) and teaching-learning materials that have been included in the Interim Authority Ministry of Education’s “Back to School Campaign.” Save the Children is participating in the “Back to School” program in areas where it operates – Faryab and Sari-Pul provinces in northern Afghanistan and in Kabul Province -- by distributing education materials, conducting a school-awareness campaign, establishing Parent-Teacher Associations and by reconstructing and building schools. Where the buildings are not yet ready for children, Save the Children is helping communities set up temporary tents to house classes.
Schools “are in ruin”:
But there is much to be done. A visit in March to Kabul and the Shamali Plains, one of the areas most badly affected by conflict, by Save the Children Director of Education Fred Wood illustrated that much of Afghanistan’s educational infrastructure is in ruins. “It was much, much worse than I expected,” said Wood. “It’s like a World War I battle site. Schools, where they are standing, are less like classrooms for children’s learning and more like caves, stripped of whatever materials, furniture, roofs, window frames, and doors that once made them lively centers of learning.”
Save the Children’s field office in Kabul will work with the Interim Ministry of Education and local partners, including communities, to rehabilitate 10 destroyed educational facilities in the Shamali Plains area.
Meet two Afghan girls eager to attend school:
Among those children that Save the Children will be providing basic educational tools to may be Ronah and Rita, both 12-year-old girls living for now in an internally displaced persons camp in Kabul. Ronah came to the camp a year ago after living in the Shamali Plains where her family had a house and her father was a farmer. “There was fighting there very close to our house. It is better to be here than in the fighting there,” she said. Ronah attends a Save the Children school in the camp and says, “I like all of my classes but I like math the most. I like when the teacher asks questions and I can give the [correct] answers. It is important to be educated. Then I can teach others what I have learned. If there wasn’t this school I would not have anywhere to go.”
Rita says, “In Shamali, there was only a school for boys not girls, so I didn’t go to school there. There is a school now. Before we could never leave the house. Now we can go to the clinic or to school. My life is better. We have history and math. School is important because you earn about everything. You become enlightened and can read. In the future I want to be a teacher. I want to teach other people what I learned.”
Our Education Plans for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan:
- In 2002, Save the Children will target 4,000 women through Non-Formal Education (NFE) in Balochistan and Haripur refugee villages in Pakistan. As part of the NFE program, women attend informal groups where they develop reading, writing and numeracy skills and where they are able to exchange and discuss ideas and information relevant to their lives.
- Save the Children’s Child-Focused Health Education program targets about 800 children between the ages of 6 and 12 in Haripur refugee villages in Pakistan. In response to the unmet demand for primary education, Save the Children will open six three-room schools in Haripur refugee villages for grade 1 boys and girls that will provide access to education for around 420 to 450 students in 2002.
- The Quetta City Schools Project supports an association of self-help Afghan schools for unregistered refugee children by providing stationery supplies and classroom materials to 42 schools with 14,000 students, and by strengthening the organizational capacity of the association.
- Save the Children supports some 100 primary schools, including home-based girls schools with a total number of nearly 17,000 students enrolled in Balochistan in Pakistan. Save the Children provides teacher training, classroom resources, textbooks and stationery, teacher salaries, and some building materials. Save the Children also works with communities to develop and strengthen Parent Teacher Associations and to increase interest in education. A School Health and Nutrition Initiative promotes nutrition and hygiene education and supports schools to carry out vitamin A supplementation.
Save the Children in Afghanistan
Since 1985 Save the Children has been responding to the needs of Afghan children and families, whether in Afghanistan or refugee sites in Pakistan, by working to help them improve their lives through programs in health, education and child protection. We have done this throughout years of war, sociopolitical turmoil, drought and oppression. The challenges are daunting, especially for children and women. Even though political and economic uncertainty and personal and community insecurity still prevail in much of Afghanistan, Save the Children is committed to helping Afghan families and communities.
Health: The health care system in Afghanistan was largely destroyed by decades of conflict Ã¢â‚¬â€œ particularly services for women and children. In partnership with the Ministry of Public Health, Save the Children works with families, communities and health care workers in homes, health posts, clinics and hospitals to promote basic health, well being and survival, particularly for children younger than five and for women of childbearing age. In all health initiatives we encourage people Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from school children to health officials Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to take part in improving the health of Afghan children, mothers and families. In addition to government healthcare leaders and administrators, Save the Children supports doctors, nurses, community midwives and other clinicians. As importantly, we support community health workers, who staff home-based health posts in some of the poorest and most rural areas of northern Afghanistan.
Education: In partnership with the Ministry of Education, Save the Children is increasing access to education through school support, teacher training and community mobilization in poor, remote districts. Support for parents Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to promote education for girls as well as boys and to encourage them to take part in decision-making about their childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s education Ã¢â‚¬â€œ is also key to our education initiatives. Teacher training is helping communities improve the quality of education children receive by helping teachers improve knowledge of child development Ã¢â‚¬â€œ physical, nutritional and emotional development as well as intellectual. By leading community-based early childhood development programs that increase community and parental awareness of the importance of child development Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including play Ã¢â‚¬â€œ in childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lives, we are strengthening communitiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ ability to prepare their children for success once they reach school. Since 2006, we have been part of a consortium to design an approach to school administrator training that improves teaching and learning, and is now part of Ministry of Education-approved national training.
In addition, Save the Children constructs schools in areas where large numbers of children Ã¢â‚¬â€œ especially girls Ã¢â‚¬â€œ are out of school. Similarly, we construct latrines and wells, and provide much-needed health, nutrition and hygiene education through community-based, child-led health classes. These classes held are in homes outside of school hours, with volunteer child/adolescent facilitators.
Child Protection: Afghanistan is an unsafe place for children Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and there are many girls and boys who are subjected to corporal and psychological punishment in schools and homes. Building on past successes, Save the Children now leads child protection initiatives to mobilize communities to complex issues such as the fear of kidnapping. We also facilitate the Child Protection Action Network, which aims to address child protection issues with action and follow-up. We are especially active in helping childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s voices to be heard and helping raise awareness of government responsibility to child rights and well-being.
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