Train 60 girls in computer coding in Afghanistan

by The Womanity Foundation
Train 60 girls in computer coding in Afghanistan
An illustration of our work by Annie Yilmaz
An illustration of our work by Annie Yilmaz

Womanity was set to restart its activities in March 2022, when secondary schools for girls were due to reopen, but to the shock of the entire world, this decision was reversed at the very last-minute preventing us again from offering our services to students.

However, driven by our strong determination to continue to support girls´education in Afghanistan, we did not give up and we started to investigate other avenues to continue our work. We identified in the TVET-A authority a potential strong partner to implement our program.

TVET-A is an independent authority that supervises vocational training institutes for boys and girls in grade 13th and 14th across Afghanistan. Among their institutes, there is a technological centre in Kabul that offers classes in computer literacy, graphic design and coding. After several weeks of negotiation, we identified ways to complement their offer and support girls´ education, we also negotiated to host classes online for them while we wait that the centre is given authorisation to open for girls. More than 100 students expressed interest in joining our classes.

We are currently signing a Memorandum of Understanding to hopefully start activities by the end of June.

Meanwhile we expanded our university scholarship program for student in computer science in Salam University and identified 20 new students to join our current 11 scholarship holders and receive our financial support. 

In the first months of the year, we also support 300 girls to prepare for the Kankoor exam, granting them financial support to attend tutoring classes in a private well-known institute (the DEWA center). 

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In the first quarter of 2022, we have decided to strategically wait for secondary schools for girls to reopen so that restarting our activities will happen smoothly and without any security problems. 

The Taliban regime has announced that secondary education for girls will resume with the new academic year (in Afghanistan this runs from the end March to November) and we are impatient to restart soon our Girls Can Code program in our four partner schools in Kabul.

Meanwhile we continued to support our core team so that they can face the challenges of this cold winter and provide for their extended families.

We also continued our support to 12 university students given that most of them are enrolled in private Universities that stayed open since October 2021.

Finally we are taking an active role in local NGOs tables of discussions and meetings with government representatives to ensure a positive dialogue with Institutions once we resume activities.

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Illustration of the Girls Can Code program
Illustration of the Girls Can Code program

In August 15th 2021,  the government of Afghanistan collapsed and the country was taken over by Taliban who shortly after announced the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Since then, many activities have been halted, the bank system shut down for a few weeks and is currently gradually reopening and NGOs have been largely impossibilitated to work with the exception of some working on humanitarian assistance.   The Afghan economy is in freefall due to years of conflict, drought, and covid-19. The result is that 18m people are in urgent need of humanitarian support and nearly 400,000 were forced from their homes since the beginning of the year, joining 2.9 million Afghans already internally displaced. Among them, women and girls are the most neglected and the first forgotten. 

At the moment, girls can only attend education in grade 1 to 6 and in University that can offer segregated teaching. For this reason, de facto, only a few private universities reopened. While schools for boys, grade 7 to 12, reopened, the same did not happen for girls and their schools are currently still closed with the exception of 6 provinces.

Our program is currently on hold waiting for the right conditions to resume working in an environment that is safe for us, as Womanity´s staff and for our girl students. We are among the few organisations able to operate our bank account and were able to pay salaries and support our team on the ground. Furthermore, as private Universities reopened, we were able to resume our scholarship program supporting nine students.

Since the last week of September we are conducting a social media campaign to join forces with others and urge the leadership of Afghanistan to reopen schools for girls and the international community to stand in support of Afghan girls and women so that they can continue their education, have the freedom to pursue careers of their choice and contribute to build the future of our country.

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With the new of the Academic year in Afghanistan (end of March 2021), we also started our new cycle of classes. We emnrolled more than 600 students.
In Grade 10th  girls learn English and we have currently 210  students enrolled in our classes. In grade 11th for our ICT (computer literacy) classes, we have 203 students and finally, in grade 12th for our coding and web development classes, we have 195 students.

At the beginning of June, following a sharp increase of Covid -19 cases in Afghanistan, the government announced a lockdown for all schools (currently expected to end on July 10th ).

In order to maintain a high level of interest in our classes and to preserve girls´ skills and continued education, we are currently running a few workshops online waiting to hopefully resume our regular curriculum and in person classes in mid-July.

In 2021, we also kicked off a partnership with The Rumie Initiative to adapt their educational content to the Afghan context.

In parallel, we are monitoring very closely the situation in Kabul to be able to act in the most appropriate manner on the basis of the reality on the ground as international troops continue to withdraw. 

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“I was very depressed during the lockdown because there wasn’t any opportunity to continue official schooling but, I am glad that Womanity courses continued. This helped us not to give up with our dreams and continue to have an active educational life despite lockdown ”. Marwa, student of English Language course in Speen Kalai High School.

Key highlights January-December 2020 | 

  • In 2020,  considering all operations in the four partner schools and activities organised for alumni, Womanity conducted 44 training modules of different length enrolling a total of 716 students who completed the training and with a very limited dropout rate of 5.4%. The majority of students attended more than a module this year or in previous years. Therefore, we served 469  individual beneficiaries, of whom 76 were students enrolled for the first time in one of our courses in 2020. 
  • During the year, on the basis of the Covid-19 measures enforced in Kabul, Womanity was able to move classes online and again in person always guaranteeing social distance and availability of hand sanitiser and masks. 
  • Although, for some courses, we did not follow our traditional timeline and curricula, we were able to differentiate and somehow expand our offer of courses, to innovate our teaching modules and to continue follow our students and alumni in a time where the official schooling was disrupted enabling them to maintain an active educational life.  This not only continued to support girls’ education but also showed resilience and adaptability of our team. 
  • During the  lockdown, we ensured that students could attend our classes by providing each a 4G internet connection, while throughout the year we also distributed 70 refurnished 2nd hand  laptops for the students who did not have any appliance to do attend online courses comfortably or do their homework.  
  • We assisted 67 alumni to find free online courses in English language or IT related subjects so that they could preserve and improve their skills while waiting for the Kankoor exam (the Afghan University entrance exam). Additionally, in February, 20 students attended a webinar organised by SOWCoders, a New York based organisation led by women working in tech. 
  • During the reporting period 33 internships or volunteering opportunities were on-going or completed (of them 4 are part of a 4y scheme that will support students throughout University). In a couple of cases, girls were offered short term contract extensions following the internship.
  • 5 university students are continuing successfully their higher studies in computer science thanks to our scholarships and additional 7 scholarships were awarded in the last quarter of 2020 when University enrolment re-started. Furthermore, we were able to negotiate with the Salam University a reduction of fees for students graduated from the GCC course.
  • The lockdown, more than the Covid-19 itself, is estimated to have a long-lasting impact in Afghanistan worsening the already fragile situation of many families for example increasing dramatically the people reaching emergency level of food insecurity as well as the number of children facing acute malnutrition. To do our part and try to alleviate the extreme poverty of families (students and schools’ workers) in our schools’ communities, Womanity mobilised funding to cover two rounds of food parcel distribution for a total of 275 packages.  The first at the end of June supported 110 families, while the second at the end of October distributed food to 165 families (about half of them were already supported in the first round). 
  • Womanity distributed hygiene kits in schools and renewed and equipped hygiene facilities with sanitizing materials when they reopened.
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The Womanity Foundation

Location: Carouge, Geneva - Switzerland
Website:
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Twitter: @forwomanity
Project Leader:
Valentina Di Felice
Grand-Lancy, Geneva Switzerland
$2,875 raised of $10,000 goal
 
57 donations
$7,125 to go
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