Jul 9, 2004

Aghan Refugee Education

Afghans are the world's largest refugee population. With you help, CHI and AIL are able to offer vital education and health care to Afghan women and children who are not able to return home because of ongoing unrest, lack of economic opportunity, and devastated infrastructure in Afghanistan. Many refugees' homes and livelihoods have been destroyed during the last quarter century of war and civil strife in Afghanistan. CHI and AIL’s programs for refugees are giving them hope for a better, more prosperous future. CHI and AIL support schools for Afghan refugee children and offer literacy, enrichment, and income generating skills classes for women. CHI and AIL also offer health services to women and children through a clinic and mobile clinic in the camps. Health services include examinations, vaccinations, prescriptions, and health education. During May of 2004, CHI and AIL offered health education to 1,380 women.

WLC classes in tailoring, bead knitting, psychology, English, calligraphy, Dari, Pushto, math, health, literacy, and Arabic are offered. Leadership, human rights, traditional birth attendant, and teacher training are also offered. During May of 2004, CHI and AIL offered these classes to over 1,300 women through at Women’s Learning Center locations. One of AIL’s literacy students said: "It was one of my utmost desires to be a literate person. I love to read and write. Now I am able to read and write. I am so happy. I am very much thankful to AIL and to my teachers who help us with full patience. I would like to be a literacy teacher in future. I would love to help my people to be able to read and write. Only some one like me can realize the joy of being literate."

During 2003, CHI and AIL supported 14 schools for over 12,000 Afghan refugee students in Pakistan. AIL provides student scholarships, materials, supplies, regular supervision, monitoring, salaries and training for teachers and administrators through its school support program.

AIL staff at the Pakistan WLCs have also developed a new, quarterly Farsi-language magazine for AIL students, staff, and the general public. This magazine contains contributions from people all over Afghanistan and publishes information about current issues, literature, poems, AIL programs and schools, jokes, health tips, interesting math questions, and interviews with top students. Two issues of this magazine, called Voice of Education, have already been published. AIL staff also work to develop new classes, lesson plans, and training opportunities for Afghan children, adults, and professionals. During the last 18 months, they have developed traditional birth attendant training, numerous university lesson plans, and 8 new health and education workshops.

Jul 9, 2004

University Update

Gawhar Shad University was founded in 2003 by CHI's project partner the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in response to the lack of post-secondary education opportunities for Afghan women. Today, the University has three curriculum tracks; the College of Nursing/Health Education, the College of Math and Computer Science, and the College of Education.

The Nursing/Health Education program provides students with a broad knowledge-base and skill set in nursing, health education, vaccination, midwifery, and disease prevention. This six-month intensive course requires students to complete practical as well as classroom work and provides instruction on over 100 medical topics. Graduates are in high demand by employers because there are so few skilled Afghan female health professionals and a strong cultural preference that Afghan women receive health services from other Afghan women. Some Nurse/Health Educators have enrolled in Kabul University's Medical School and have been exempted from numerous classes because of the quality of training that they received at AIL. To date, 52 women have graduated from this course and are providing urgently needed health care services to thousands of Afghan women who would not otherwise have access to care. Nineteen more women are currently enrolled.

The College of Math and Computer Science course subjects include Computer, Math, Dari, Psychology, English, and Islamiat. Currently 113 students are studying in this 4-year program. Students are broadening their knowledge base and learning leadership skills that will prepare them for management positions in public and private sector organizations. Skilled managers and leaders who are able to develop innovative solutions to the many problems of Afghanistan are greatly needed during this period of reconstruction.

In the College of Education, teachers study to be teacher trainers. They learn student-centered, interactive methods of teaching and how to train other teachers to use these methods. These interactive teaching methods are revolutionizing education in Afghanistan and starkly contrast with traditional Afghan teaching methods which rely on recitation and rote memorization. Interactive methods like demonstration, practical application, discussion, and group work challenge students and teach them to think critically and to problem solve. Those studying to be Master Teacher Trainers are required to complete practical and theoretical work. They are taught by AIL’s Master Teacher Trainers and receive individual training and guidance. Last year, two teachers completed this course of study and became Master Teacher Trainers. Thirteen teacher trainers are currently enrolled in this program. In total, AIL teacher trainers and Master Teacher Trainers have trained over 8,000 Afghan teachers in interactive methods, increasing the quality of education for hundreds of thousands of students.

During the winter of 2004, another Afghan woman who had also founded a university asked to merge her university with Gawhar Shad in order to improve the quality and sustainability of her post-secondary program. AIL agreed to this merger and welcomed the new students. CHI and AIL are also looking forward to expanding these post-secondary course offerings to students in Afghanistan as soon as possible.

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