Education may seem like a simple action in a nation ravaged by war for the last several decades, but we have seen tremendous change in the status of girls and women. Providing quality education experiences is about more than just getting more girls into the classroom, it is about empowering them to be free, creative thinkers who can engage in the public discussion of their country’s culture and politics and be respected and heard. We are a long ways off from achieving our goals of gender parity in the Afghanistan education system, but we continue to see tremendous growth in our capability to make this a reality.
We recently hosted a short story competition at one of our schools, where students were encouraged to write a short story about their life. More than 30 were submitted from 10th through 12th graders. The goal of this competition was to allow students to write stories using their unique voice about their own experiences or life around the village. In addition, students were required to read outside books to help with create a short story. Together these goals encouraged reading and general knowledge, as well as promoting creativity and empowerment by allow the children to raise their own voice and write about the situation.
The stories we received shocked and awed us. The titles were as diverse as “The Merchant Daughter” to “Regret is Useless,” Forces Marriages,” and “Unchastity.” The outpouring for this competition highlights the need to creative outlets in education and further opportunities for students to have their opinion heard.
More than half-way through the construction of our 11th school, Ayni has been researching new ways to improve our service and make our mission more effective. This month has seen a focus on the effects of early marriage on education and how we can reverse this trend. Over 39% of women are married by 18 in Afghanistan. This leads to a lack of education, maternal and infant health problems, and violence. Currently we are trying to pursue strategic partnerships and engages communities in informational programs in order to raise awareness and address this problem.
You can read more about child marriage here:
All this work would not be possible without your help. We are so thankful every day for the donor support we continue to receive. We look forward to more innovative progress in the future.
Educating A Generation with Your Donor Dollars
"Because we try from our hearts and we believe in ourselves and we have our parents with us." A student studying for her education
When you educate a girl in Afghanistan, everything changes. Your help in doing just that goes a long way by supporting literacy development in girls ages 5-22 in Balkh Province, Northern Afghanistan. Thanks to donor support, we have been able to both build physical schools as well as develop programs with computers, libraries and a teacher training center that aims to bring more female teachers to rural areas.
There are currently more girls enrolled in school than at any time in Afghanistan's history with females accounting for 36% of all students. We want to continue this trend and improve upon it until every girl is enrolled in school. The benefits are tremendous: early marriage is delayed, maternal health improves and the economics of the family likewise improve because girls become employable upon graduation.
The story below demonstrates what education can mean in the life of a girl.
Shazia is now 18 and was just accepted to the university after receiving a high school education at a school built with and supported by your donor funds.
“I remembered when my father and mother helped me with my lessons every night and my parents asked me about my tasks and new lessons. I spent all my time going to school and studying my lessons.” She had the first position in her class all 12 years. She said: “I thought it was my duty to learn. "
Shazia is living with her family of 8. Her brother is studying in the Faculty of Agriculture in Balkh University. And her younger brother is in grade 12 in the top position of his class. Her three sisters are also students at the Ayni built school. And they are all in first position in their classes. Shazia said: “Why and how are we able to do this? Because we try from our hearts and we believe in ourselves and we have our parents with us. Parents are a very big power for the children. When they encourage you, you think you have the entire world behind you. I am very happy and lucky that I have my parents with myself.”
Shazia passed the Kankor- like the America SAT - examination and is now proceeding to university.
The is fantastic news and thanks to your support of our computer centers, library books and the buildings for Shazia to study in, her success is moving to the next level of education.
Shazia delayed marriage as well as early childbirth. It is a well known fact that an educated mother is more likely to ensure that her children also receive an education and thus break the cycle of extreme poverty and maternal illnesses. Shazia will likely go on to finish her degree and be able to contribute to her family's economic situation. With eight people to support, her efforts will make an enormous difference. She is an example of how educating one girl is having a ripple effect on the entire family.
You make a difference in a country where a little bit goes a long way. Thank you.
As one student said, “I have some education now. I know how a young woman should live. I have dreams. Nothing stops me from wanting to be a doctor or teacher. I just want a buliding to go to school in. I am so happy it is coming. Right now we are in a temporary site. Forget all this talk about the Taliban coming back. Just focus on studying. We need female teachers and better study materials."
And while challenges can be found everywhere, incredible progress can too. And that is what you are part of: committed donors who want to see girls advance and realize hopes and dreams just like in America. In many of the schools we support the Ministry of Education in, students and teachers start a day of lessons that include Dari, English, religion, science, math, and life skills.
According to the Deputy Minister for Education, rural villages—even those nearest the country’s capital—have trouble finding qualified female teachers. Of the 416 districts in Afghanistan, 166 have no women to teach the girls. We have answered this challenge by supporting a Teacher Training Center and helping transport 30 young women from insecure rural areas to the Center for training to learn how to teach. This is building capacity in rural villages where females will step into key leadership and teaching roles.
Your help is met by enthusiasm in the girls. Smiles and giggles meet visitors and our Afghan photojournalist catured wide eyed wonder in the attached photos. Curiousity about life in other places and an endearing sense of the possibilities for their own future were also part of the conversation.
There is of course, much more to do. And your support helps us do that. We continue to repair walls, latrines and roofs in conjunction with village councils and assist with clean water project in a rural area where a well went dry.
40% of girls are in school nation-wide. But in rural areas, that figure is much lower and the literacy level is extremely low. That translates into this: you are helping educate the first girl in her family and maybe the only person in her family to learn to read and write.
With each step comes another strong step and desire for more learning. The support from their famlies to educate their daughters is very real. And the learning is really happening. That is truly a great source for hope for the future.
Your dollars make the dreams of the girls in our schools in northern Afghanistan possible. With the quality education that you help us provide, these girls will have the opportunity to enter the workforce after graduation, improve their communities, and even stand up for gender equality in Afghanistan.
“My goal is to become a police officer one day,” said a girl from one of our schools. “I have seen explosions on TV and saw that many police officers got injured. But I didn’t get scared. Because the enemies want to scare us so that we won’t be able to serve our country. But I want to go against their wish.”
These girls, who are determined to learn and to make their dreams a reality in spite of difficult conditions, are returning to schools in the thousands. 10.5 million children in Afghanistan are currently enrolled, and 40% of them are females. You have helped us expand in order to serve these girls, as we are in the process of building additional rooms and making roof repairs. You have helped us supply the increasing demand at our schools for new desks, chairs, blackboards, library books, school supplies, and textbooks. By giving girls these materials, you have helped them thrive in the classroom and maximize their learning experiences.
You have also supported the addition of libraries and lab equipment to our schools. The computer centers at two of our schools continue to train girls in essential comptuer skills and improve their chances of employment or higher education, and we have recently opened a third in order to reach even more. 120 girls are currently enrolled in the first round of classes and are excited to begin developing their technical skills for the future.
We believe that every girl in Afghanistan should have access to education and a teacher she can rely on. These girls should go to a school that they can feel proud of and safe in. We thank you for supporting this vision, and for allowing girls at our schools to imagine a future for themselves as productive, empowered individuals.
Donor Impact: Increasing Literacy Rates & Technical Skills of Girls in Northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan's youth are connected to the digital world just like kids anywhere. Except some are so mired in poverty that they can't find a way to be connected. That is where you come in. Your dollars have helped bridge that gap. The way to educate girls now -- with all the benefits of self-esteem, wider world views, family health, economic health -- is to introduce her to, and educate her in, the computer technology that will change her life and opportunities. Every contribution, small and large, fills the critical need to purchase computers and build out new centers that provide courses for girls to become computer literate. Tapping into technology changes opportunities and changes life's circumstances for each girl who has the ability to attend our centers.
Keyboarding to Change.
28,000 students, mostly girls, attend our schools in Northern Afghanistan. Final exams were administered in June and students are now on break until September. A year ago, however, something unusual began to happen: as we opened our first and then second computer center, we could not keep up with the demand for more computers, more teachers and more centers. It was remarkable. From mullahs to mothers, everyone wanted their daughters to be at the cutting edge of the keyboard. The future, according to the leaders of the community, was on the keyboard and the Ministry of Education agreed as they approached us asking to keep the centers open year-round. We responded with a commitment to raise funds to buy computers and open centers, hire teachers and keep girls in the seats that would expand their literacy to include computer certification courses too. Over 400 girls have graduated with certification credentials from our centers.
A young woman visiting the computer center of one of our schools in the Balkh Province reports,
“This [computer literacy program] will help girls in their studies in school and also gives girls the opportunity to move beyond the boundaries, to learn beyond their textbooks. The more access to better educational facilities for girls, the more powerful our troop of educated girls will be. Connecting these girls to computers is connecting them to the world.”
Empowering Girls. Changing Lives.
Your dollars have provided Afghan girls with access to the world at their fingertips. With new computers, these girls will be able to learn about national and international affairs, become connected to a global community, and empower themselves by strengthening their voices through social media platforms, as well as learn new technical skills required for employment. You have helped us meet the high demand for more computer literacy courses in our schools.
Learning computer skills creates more educational and employment opportunities for Afghan girls and enables them to learn about other countries, such as the U.S., encouraging open-mindedness and respect for national and international cultural differences.
Doors of Opportunity
Donors have the power to open doors of opportunity for the girls in our schools, as these centers teach computer skills to girls, leading to a certification that makes them eligible for certain kinds of employment. Acquiring these technical skills will allow girls to become more economically independent, which increases their confidence, self-reliance, and status in their communities.
Computer course graduates are positioned better to take the Koncur exam, similar to our SAT exams that prepare them for entrace to universities in Afghanistan. From social media to family finances, the incentives for computer skill acquisition are enormous. Now, all the girls need is a keyboard in front of them and that is where you, our donors, come in. Thank you and keep it up. It truly makes a difference.
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