Educate Girls and Boys in Rural Afghanistan

by Sahar Education
Educate Girls and Boys in Rural Afghanistan

I’m writing with good news and thanks to all who have contributed to Sahar’s 13th school – a signature project based on sustainable design principals – the Gohar Khaton Girls School and some other activities. The new school will open in June to a community celebration including government officials from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Economy and local municipal leaders. Tribal leaders representing the various ethnic groups of Tajik, Turk, Uzbek and Pashto will also be attending the opening festivities. Families, parents, the principal and of course, the 3,500 girls who will be attending the new school will organize the opening. The girls will sit for their last few weeks and final exams for this academic term. 

Among the unique elements of the school was the recently completed artwork on the school walls by six female artists selected through a nation-wide competition held by Sahar. As part of the installation of the artwork on the walls, we held a workshop with specialists that trained the young artists in how to take their artwork and transfer it to a large-scale wall participating in the actual installation. The result is wonderful as the pictures below demonstrate. Each artist acquired new skills and was able to participate in groundbreaking ways – it is certainly unusual for young women in Afghanistan to climb scaffolds and paint walls!

As Zainab said, " I do art because there is a great role of it in society, especially when society has a back log of war. Art tells us it could be better than this. As a young artist, I try my best to do what I can through the 'door' of my arts. The best thing I learned was about the colors and the meaning of colors in our life. The installation process (on the school walls)  was the best experience of my life."

Below you will also find our most recent model for desks that allow 2 girls to sit together. This model, designed by local Mazar merchants, both generated income for the private sector and also allows us to have a template to replicate for the quantity of desks that we must continue to update and manufacture for the 15,000 girls in our schools. 

Beyond celebrating the Gohar Khaton Girls School opening, Sahar is launching a pilot program to address ways to keep girls in school beyond ages 12-13. We’ve worked hard to get girls in the doors since the fall of the Taliban, now our work is to keep girls in school past what is known in America as junior high school. This is the age when early marriage typically occurs. Our goal is to facilitate more girls graduating from high school and thus opening up better prospects for their future options in life.

 Thanks for donating to "Help Educate Girls and Boys in Afghanistan" project.

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We have met our initial fundraising goal for educating boys and girls in rural Afghanistan because of your generosity and continued support. Your dollars will go far in rural northern Afghanistan, where many children still lack access to quality education. There’s more to be done: our nine schools in village regions are always in need of more supplies and teachers as we try to keep up with rising enrollment. You have helped us provide classroom repairs, such as roof repairs and blackboard resurfacing for lessons, as well as materials like textbooks, school supplies, and library books. By supplying these items, you directly improve the quality of the education these children recieve.     

You help us give girls living in rural Afghanistan the support system they need to continue their education. We have ensured that girls stay in school by supporting an liaison who facilitate parent-teacher meetings and organize community-building activities. These activities allow us to communicate effectively with the families of girls who are attending our rural schools and demonstrate the value of education. Also, our liaisons connect with the girls by listening to their stories and speaking candidly with them about their futures, and whether they plan on entering the workforce after graduation or moving on to some form of higher education. Our liaisons are essential for supporting the girls in Afghanistan who are the most vunlerable. Girls often drop out of school between sixth and ninth grades becuase of expectations to help their families with work or to marry at an early age. You have helped us to work on  eliminating these barriers to girls' education in rural Afghanistan by organzing a group of liasions dedicated to cultivating relationships with the girls in our schools and with their families.  Abida, a sixteen-year-old girl at one of our schools, told us, "I am the first child in my family [to go to school]. Going to school and trying to be an educated person was started by me in my family. I want to be a doctor in the future." This is the impact you have on students in Afghanistan. You can help us educate the next generation of Afghans and make sure that children in rural Afghanistan have the resources they need to take on leadership roles in the future. Thank you. 

You have also supported our efforts in training more female teachers and ensuring that more will return to rural northern Afghanistan to work. We train female teachers from these rural areas, who then reutrn to teach children from their own villages and allow hundreds of girls to be educated every year. Moreover, you have transported many of our teachers who live outisde of these village regions to our schools. A qualified teacher who students can depend on is critical in this conflict-zone.  

We thank you for continuing to support our efforts in rural northern Afghanistan. You have enabled hundreds of children to receive a quality education, who are often the first ones in their family to attend school. These children now have the opportunity to build better lives for themselves and their future families in rural Afghanistan.   

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Your support of our work in rural northern Afghanistan has been critical for the sustainability of education in village regions. Rural Afghanistan is one of the most difficult places to live: literacy levels are the lowest in these regions and agriculture is the primary activity, yet only 12% of the land is arable and only 40% is irrigated. Children have limited access to schools because of low local government investment in infrastructure. Students often drop out of school to help their families in the fields.  

Our teacher training programs have prevented students in rural areas, espeically girls, from dropping out of school. You have supported young women who have graduated from our teacher training center and have returned to their villages to educate hundreds of girls each year. This is a significant accomplishment, as few teachers are willing to work in rural Afghanistan, leaving many children without a qualified instructor. Your impact on education in rural Afghanistan willl endure for years to come, as more female teachers are employed by the Ministry of Education in rural areas, who are able to reach the girls from their own villages. 

You have also helped us combat issues of overcrowding and lack of access to schools by investing in the maintenance of our rural schools. We have continued to supply more desks, chairs, and roof repairs to ensure that students can learn in an environment that is secure and protected from the elements. We are also in the process of providing new sidewalks and gates for our rural schools, and wells for dependable water sources. Your dollars have allowed us to invest in and improve the resources of schools where the local government may not have the capacity. 

Improving education in rural areas is important for creating equal opprotunities for children to learn in all regions of Afghanistan. We continue to strengthen our relationship with the rural community and Ministry of Education in Balkh Province to make these programs for education sustainable. You have the power to ensure that where a girl lives in Afghanistan does not determine the quality of her education.

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Your Role in Sustaining Education in Rural Afghanistan

A young woman working in our office in Mazar-i-Sharif reports on the conditions in rural Northern Afghanistan,

In one of the villages I visited, most of the girls want to become doctors and teachers. They say for now the biggest need they have is teaching the children in their village how to read and write.”

Ayni Education International supports nine schools in rural Afghanistan. Among our greatest challenge is finding and keeping qualified teachers for the rural villages. As with any educational system, a child's teacher is often a key window to the world and plays a pivotal role in how they view education. While there are many ways to impact childrens' education, a cruical step is to train the teachers with curriculum tailored to rural life and to bolstering young people's opportunities for future growth.  These are tall orders in any country.  In Afghanistan, one child's ability to read typically affects 11 family members. Your contributions help support our efforts to train teachers in rural areas. 

Without qualified teachers, children in rural Afghanistan cannot learn. Thank you for your support which has ensured that women and men from rural areas graduate from our Teacher Training program and return to their villages after certification.

A recent requirement issued by the Ministry of Education mandates that teachers pass a qualification exam. Ayni Education International offers a program that trains teachers, many of whom come from rural villages and will return to their own rural villages, enabling these teachers to gain the certification they need to teach in the Afghan education system.

Improving Children’s Access to Education Begins With Teachers

Donors have helped Ayni Education International meet the growing demand for teachers in rural Afghanistan. Finding female teachers is a much more difficult problem for our schools and we run the risk, each school semester, of losing girl students if we can’t find female teachers. Traditional practices in villages require that girls be taught by female teachers: current estimates, based on just a 30% female educational workforce, suggest that Afghanistan is in need of over 70,500 more female teachers.

We have helped fill this gap with your support, qualifying hundreds of teachers each year who go on to educate the children from their own villages. Supporting our efforts in training rural Afghan women to become teachers is crucial for strengthening programs for education in rural Afghanistan. By getting more teachers to these rural areas, children at all levels have teachers that they can depend on.

Educating Children and Rural Communities

Each woman that graduates from our Teacher Training Program goes on to impact an estimated 4,500 students a year. And for each student educated, it is estimated that 11 families are also educated on some level. You have helped make programs for education in rural Afghanistan more sustainable and allow children to continue to learn. Your contributions have allowed these women to return to their local villages, where the youth is most vulnerable to extremist views, with a knowledge base in all major subjects. These female teachers will dramatically improve students’ chances of attending basic and higher education classes.

 We thank you for supporting the learning of rural communities in Afghanistan. Your donations help Afghan children who need access to education the most.  

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Students are preparing for their final exams before summer break in our nine rural schools in Northern Afghanistan. Temperatures are already soaring and it is important to remember that no school has air conditioning; no heat in the winter and no cool air in the spring/summer. The small comforts of a desk can be a luxury many students do not have. Thanks to your donor dollars, we have been able to maintain a steady stream of desks projects - building new and replacing the old as student populations in our schools continues to grow. When schools become too crowded, the children return to tents and many bring plastic chairs from home to sit on. For those with no chairs, they find stones to sit on in the school yard. Our commitment to providing desks remains steadfast: it provides a clean place, off the ground, for the students to sit and study and it also provides local jobs for the workers building the desks. 

Your contributions also help our school liaison continue to visit the rural areas, meet with community officials, principals, the girls and families. The liaison facilitates the Parent-Teacher meetings and assists with ongoing community building activities. This engenders support for the schools -- this is particularly important in areas where girls' education can and does come under fire with more conservative elements in villages. The liaison also acts as a mentor to the girls while listening to their stories and ideas about school, she also prods them into thinking about their futures and what can be for their lives and that of Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan will change dramatically in the next 18 months, that is for certain. Your support is more important now than ever. We can provide the physical and human resources to focus on education - a crucial element to the future of the nation as it navigates a presidential election, US troop withdrawal and other foreign troop draw downs. Education will be the certain bet for a bright future. Thanks for continuing to support the children. They will make the difference.  

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Organization Information

Sahar Education

Location: Seattle, WA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SaharEducation
Project Leader:
Sophia Alhadeff
Seattle, WA United States

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