As the year comes to a close, the Afghan Institute of Learning would like to say thank you for your support of our project this year. It is because of your generosity that our program has been able to grow from a pilot program of 2 classes and 4 teachers in 2012, to 30 teachers trained to use this technique and 9 classes for a total of 315 students. We are so excited about the amazing results we continue to see when the teachers combine traditional literacy teaching techniques with text messaging, and cannot wait to offer this class to even more students in 2014!
Learning to read is life changing for the women and girls in AIL’s mobile literacy classes. It can be hard for many of us to fully appreciate the change that takes place when a person becomes literate. To help express this amazing change, we’d like to share the story of one of the twelve year old students in AIL’s mobile literacy program.
I am twelve, and as a girl I was expected to stay home all day. This caused me to become depressed. In my community it is shameful for a man to allow his daughters or sisters to go to school after they are 10 years old. Before the age of 10, I lived in an unsafe village. It was so unsafe that I couldn’t go to primary school. I always wished to be able to read and write, but it felt like it would never happen.
We moved to a new city, but we were so far from the main part of the city. Luckily, our new home is near an AIL Learning Center. I heard that they were offering literacy classes at this center, but I wasn’t sure if my father would permit me to attend the class. Finally, I was allowed to attend! I have been studying in the mobile literacy class for about three months now. At first, everything was very strange to me. I thought I had entered a new world. I found new friends. The class was very interesting to me. I can now read and write. In addition, I am learning life skills every day in class, for example, I can now communicate with people all over the world because I can now use a mobile phone. I can call my new friends, and compose and exchange text messages with them. I can also listen to my favorite radio stations on this mobile phone, and when I have free time I can even play games on it. I feel that I am becoming more self sufficient, and am so thankful for this class.
In Afghanistan, it can be difficult, if not impossible for a girl to enter school if she is behind for her age. Fewer than one in five Afghan women are literate. Without this mobile literacy class, this young girl may have never been able to reach her goal of learning to read. Now that she has, there is a greater chance that others in her family will attend school as well. In addition, when she gets married and has children of her own, it is ten times more likely that her children will also be literate. Your donations have helped to change the course of this girl’s life, and the lives of other girls like her. Thank you.
Attached to this report is our year end newsletter. We hope that you will take a few minutes to read it.
Dear GlobalGiving Donors,
Thank you so much for supporting the Afghan Institute of Learning’s (AIL) various projects on GlobalGiving. Over the years, the Global Giving donors have become invaluable to AIL. Through your generous support, AIL has been able to provide Afghans with education, health care, training and more.
It is your continued support that is now allowing AIL to evolve along with the young people of Afghanistan. We’d like to share with you the story of how one young woman’s life has been changed thanks to one of AIL’s programs:
I am a 19-year-old woman with two children. I had always wanted to go to school and learn to read, but there was not a school close to my home. It was not safe for me to try and travel to another village to go to school, but I always told myself that if I could go to school, I would be able to get a job and reach my goals.
It was painful to me when my brother learned to read and write, but I couldn’t. One day I watched some women and children who were going somewhere. When I saw that one of them was a woman who had an 8-year-old girl with her, I stopped her and said “Excuse me. Where are you going?” She answered, “A learning center has been established for illiterate women and their children recently. I am going to register myself and my children.”
When I heard this, I was so happy and I said to her, “Please wait a minute. I want to go with you and start to take classes too.” I joined them on their way to the learning center. When we arrived, I was so excited because I saw a lot of women there who had been learning.
Now, I can read and write and I can say proudly that I am literate. I have also learned to be healthy and to be a leader. I am reaching out and touching my wishes and goals. I thank AIL for this opportunity to reach my goals.
Thank you for the support that you give to AIL. We are so grateful to all of our supporters for their continued support of our projects on GlobalGiving. Thank you!
AIL’s innovative Mobile Literacy program (ML) is proving to be effective in speeding up literacy acquisition and is extremely popular with students. It is a useful tool in addressing the literacy gap that females face in Afghanistan. Your generous support of this initiative, combined with that of others, has meant that 35 females were able to participate in a ML class at the Sofi Abad Learning Center in Herat Province. The class began in March and ran for 5 months ending in August.
Literacy learning through mobile phone use is definitely a new thing in Afghanistan. In some cases the AIL staff had to explain the class to concerned parents who did not think girls should be using cell phones. The parents finally agreed and 35 females were enrolled. The students were aged 10-34. Most knew only the alphabet when starting the class, and six of the students did not even know that.
The students were provided with cell phones and taught how to use them. The teacher then set tasks to be performed within groups and between groups of students. People make friends through the cell phone use and learn literacy lessons but also exchange ideas about life, culture, history and health. One student said, “During this class I learned and I memorized more than 700 messages about morals and peace, more than 600 messages about society and social issues and more than 600 messages from different cultures.”
At the end of the course, 30 students were able to start taking a level 3 literacy class, and 5 were able to start a level 2 course. These results are astonishing. In a normal literacy course, it takes 9 months to advance one level. Nearly 86% of students in the ML course were able to progress through 18 months worth of learning in just 5 months because of this new technique.
This program creates enthusiasm and motivation for education. Reading story books, newspapers and magazines helps women and girls be educated and sophisticated to change their lives in positive ways. They also get interested in searching for articles about scientific, medical, social and economic issues. So the ML program is not just about literacy but is so much more; it is a gateway tool to education. Adela said, “ I had been an illiterate student before coming to this class. It is impossible to express my happiness in words for being able to read and write since attending this class. I could create and send 1500 new messages in this month that shows how I have progressed in this program."
This program alone has had life changing effect on some students such as Farshta who said: “ I really changed during this class. I wanted to register in regular school before this class but I couldn’t read the books. Now I can read so I can be registered to attend regular school. This is a fundamental change for my life. When I was at home I was illiterate and now I am literate and I am in grade three. It means during these four months I learned three grades - grades one, two and three, this is a big a achievement for me and my family that I studied three grades during this four months”.
Thank you for your support for this innovative program and for giving the gift of literacy to women and girls.
So many wonderful things have happened for the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in the last few weeks, and we’re very excited to share a few of them with you.
First, on Tuesday the Executive Director of AIL, Sakena Yacoobi received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Princeton University.
The official citation reads:
With a profound reverence for the well-being of others, this visionary leader devotes her life to the empowerment of poor Afghan women and children. With an unwavering commitment to social justice, against all odds, and often at great personal risk, she built and sustains an institute that makes healthcare and education possible for the most vulnerable. It owes its success in establishing clinics, teaching children, and training educators and caregivers to the deep and lasting ties she has forged with the people she serves and with global communities of care. After decades of work, she is still creating hope, in her home country and throughout the world.
Additionally, AIL has had two articles posted at The Huffington Post. The first focuses on AIL’s belief that Education Is the Way to a Healthier Country.
The second article details AIL’s Mobile Literacy Program, giving details of how adding texting to a traditional literacy curriculum helped to accelerate the pace of learning.
Finally, tomorrow is a Global Giving Matching Day, and because AIL is a superstar partner, all donations will be matched at 50%! Matching will begin at 9:00 am EST and funds generally run out after just a few hours.To select a project that you might like to donate to, visit AIL’s page on GlobalGiving.
The Afghan Institute of Learning is very excited to have been given the opportunity to blog at Huffington Post! Our first blog about the Women’s Networking Movement taking place in some of AIL’s centers has been posted. The Women’s Networking Movement is taking place in about 30 of AIL’s centers, schools and clinics. The women coming to these centers are sharing thoughts and ideas in ways that have not been possible until recently.
To learn more about the Women’s Networking Movement, check out our blog at Huffington Post!
Creating Hope International, AIL’s partner, has set up a Facebook page where we will be sharing more news, pictures and information about AIL’s programs. Make sure that you ‘Like’ Creating Hope International on Facebook to get all the latest news!
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