Thank you so much for your support of AIL’s Mobile Literacy Program, which combines AIL’s proven literacy curriculum with texting to increase the pace of learning. 2014 has been an exciting year for our Mobile Literacy Program. Thanks to generous GlobalGiving donors, as well as funding from other sources, we have been able to offer 16 mobile literacy classes to 480 students.
As we had said before, when we began the classes, we expected that combining literacy with texting would help the women and girls to learn to read much faster than in a traditional classroom. We did not expect that the women would have their eyes opened to a whole new world. One young woman said, “I like to communicate with my family, but I was not able to without help. I was uneducated and ashamed of myself, until I began attending the mobile literacy class. The class changed my life, and made me think more positively about myself and the community that I live in. The teacher helped me to believe in myself, and to explore my interests. I know that I am really going to enjoy my life now.”
Another woman, a mother, said, “My son has been living abroad for many year. I miss him so much, but it has always been so difficult to talk stay in touch with him. This class has taught me how to use a cell phone, and now I can call my son. In addition, I am learning to read and write, which will allow me to text with my son and make it even easier to stay in touch.”
As you can see, not only are the women learning to read and write, a whole new world is being opened to them. Some women are able to communicate with family around the globe, some are able to keep in touch with the new friends they’ve made in class, and all leave the class able to read, write and use a mobile phone. Thank you for helping to make this possible.
We have attached our year-end newsletter to this report and hope you will take a few minutes to read it.
The Afghan Institute of Learning’s Mobile Literacy program has held 14 mobile literacy classes in 2014 for a total of 430 women and girls and 80% of the students are able to read at a 4th grade level when they complete the four month long course! This number is even more remarkable when you consider that 75% of the students could not read at all when the course began.
Asma was illiterate before beginning our mobile literacy class. She never thought she would be able to read. Now that the class has completed she knows how to read and operate a cell phone. She made so many friends during the class, and without being able to operate a cell phone, her options for staying in touch with her new friends were limited. Because the class combined texting with traditional classroom instruction, she can text and call her new friends and continue the new friendships. Additionally, she developed a good relationship with her teacher, and thanks to her teacher’s encouragement is considering continuing her studies.
While the Taliban was in power, girls were not allowed to attend school. After the Taliban fell, girls were once again allowed to attend school, but many were too far behind. There was an understandable delay in opening government run schools, so many girls fell even further behind. One final barrier they face is that students can only enter the grade that corresponds with their age. A girl name Zohra participated in one of our mobile literacy classes, and has been able to get to a high enough reading level that she decided to taken an entrance exam for her to enter the proper grade at a local government school! We are so happy for Zohra, and wish her the best on her exam.
Thank you again for supporting our innovative program combining text messaging with traditional literacy education. As the situation in Afghanistan continues to change, your support becomes more important than ever in helping AIL to educate the women and girls of Afghanistan. We thank you for being part of our team!
Let’s put our hands together, let’s get together.
Our hands hold our votes and our votes hold our future.
My fellow citizen It’s my vote, it’s your vote
It’s a privilege for enduring peace
My dear fellow citizen, with our vote leadership is in our hands.
On April 5th, an historic election was held in Afghanistan. Over 7 million voters participated, and the elections were generally a peaceful affair. We at AIL hosted election workshops leading up to the vote, and asked the managers of our Learning Centers to educate students at the centers about why the vote was important, what steps they needed to take in order to vote, how to research and select candidates, and how to vote.
The effort to encourage Afghans to vote was not limited to our workshops and Learning Centers however. At a private school owned by Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (our CEO) the Arts and Culture Teacher, Mehrjui, set a poem she had written about the election to music. The song encourages all Afghans to become aware of their responsibilities, to select a good candidate for President and to vote. The PSYPS Arts and Culture students sang this song at a celebration on International Women’s Day as well as at our election workshops. The song was incredibly well received, moving many in the audience.
The students, staff, and administration at the school quickly realized how powerful their song was, so with the help of the AIL Academic Advisor and the AIL video production team, they set about recording their song so that it could be shared with a wider audience. They had no idea how popular the song was about to become.
The song quickly went viral, being aired on Afghanistan’s National TV station, as well as on eleven other stations. The song has been played many times over and candidates running for president even asked if they could buy the song to use in their campaign. The PSYPS students and staff declined to sell the song, deciding the purpose of the song was to encourage all Afghans to participate in the elections, not to support just one candidate.
As Afghanistan moves closer to a runoff election this summer, the song continues to be played on the radio and the video over the airwaves. In short, the song continues to encourage Afghans to participate in the upcoming elections and to make sure their voices are heard.
We encourage you to take a moment to view the video made by the students, to read the lyrics below and to see the hope in these young people’s faces. After watching, we hope that you will stand with the youth of Afghanistan, and join us as we work with them to create a peaceful future for their nation.
With one vote, we can be our sultan, our voice
For a better choice for a better leader
My dear fellow citizen, with our vote leadership is in our hand
My fellow citizen, stride, my fellow citizen!
With the name of God, we speak from the power of our thoughts
From our decision, unity, humanity and right
No longer speak of suicide bombing, explosion, but of creativity and pride
Don’t speak of the hills under the thorn
Speak of the friendship of verdant soil and the rose garden
Speak of spring, spring and spring
Let’s hope that this spring Afghanistan will turn into a magnificent garden. A garden in which the smell of every rose invites the world for a spectacle.
Let’s hope for a different spring, for a different year and for a different Afghanistan
Don’t forget my fellow citizen, our rendezvous is in front of ballot boxes on April 5, 2014
Our choice is the remedy
Our choice is for the day of rendezvous
Who we want will be crowned sultan
Attend the opportunity with passion and turn the enemies into wretches
This colored finger is the guiding path and this fist is the hummer for the oppressor
During 2013, with your generous support and support from grantors, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) was able to expand the mobile literacy program! AIL held a training for teachers in Herat and Kabul, allowing them to offer mobile literacy classes in new learning centers. In addition to the teacher training, AIL was able to offer 9 mobile literacy classes to a total of 315 students, and is planning to offer at least 13 more classes in 2014.
So far the students in classes that have taken place during 2013 have shown the same amazing progress as the students in the pilot classes. It is clear to AIL that combining text messaging and classroom learning has accelerated the pace of learning for students. There were also outcomes that AIL did not anticipate; the women in these classes become interested in the world around them, watching the news, listening to the radio and exploring their environment. The students are so eager to learn to text to communicate, they have also learned to use the phone to access other information, communicate with family members that live far away and teach their mothers and siblings how to text.
In Afghanistan, students often don’t start school on time, and then find it very difficult to learn what they need to know to begin attending a government school. AIL’s mobile literacy class is giving students, like Massoma a chance to catch up and join their peers in a government school. Massoma says,
I have learned so many things in this class. For example, I have learned to read, write and count. I learned how to live a successful life and ways to live a better life in my community. I learned lessons on mutual respect, having good behavior and respecting the ideas of others. I am going to take the entrance exam for the fifth class in the governmental school, and I am sure I will pass the exam because I believe in my abilities. I have an older sister. She is always at home. She was not interested in attending literacy classes because she was not sure that she would be able to learn to read and write, but she has changed her mind after seeing what I have been able to do. I am able to read quotes and messages. I now have my own cell phone and AIL gave me 20,000 messages to use to send messages to my friends. I use my cell phone all day, and sometimes at night. I usually compose and send messages. Sometimes I play games, and use the calculator on my phone. My favorite thing is to send messages to my classmates. I don’t have any suggestions for things that should change, because I think this class is perfect. I thank AIL!
We wish Massoma all the luck taking the exam to enter the fifth grade at the government school, but something tells us that she’ll do just fine.
Again, thank you so much for your support!!
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.
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