Community-Based Education Project in Takhar Province, Northern Afghanistan.
What is Community-Based Education (CBE)? This is a simple, effective and cost-efficient way to deliver education to children in rural communities who cannot reach the nearest government school. A community-based school will start with a grade 1 class and each year, new classes will be added until eventually the school runs from grade 1-6 (and often beyond) providing the equivalent of a primary school education. Without CBE, many children (especially girls) in remote areas would be denied the opportunity to access an education.
How does it work? The community provides the space for learning and AC funds the teachers' salaries, books and stationery plus ongoing training and support for teachers. The children are taught the National Curriculum which is approved by the Afghan Ministry of Education. In addition to literacy and numeracy skills, subjects (depending on grade level) can include Dari, Pashto, English, Life skills, Islamic Studies, Drawing, Natural and Social Sciences. The teachers are mostly female, and many have been educated in schools where AC has previously funded school constructions.
What is the need for this work and why is the Ministry of Education not meeting the educational requirements in this area?
Background: Following the fall of the Taliban in 2002 and the urgent need to address the dire state of education in Afghanistan, CBE was perceived by many international NGOs as an effective method in tackling the huge problem of bringing children, especially in rural areas, into the education system. Back then, only a million Afghan children were in school and only 5,000 of these were girls. Infrastructure was non-existent and while funds poured into the country, much of it was spent on the military and security. Yet this was a people who had suffered greatly and now saw the chance for a different life. There was a clear realization that education was essential to help to lift them out of poverty and towards a better future.
While much progress has been made since then and between 6-8 million children, of which around 40% are girls (Government figures vary) are now in school, there are still many areas where there is little in the way of government support or direct aid and where girls in particular miss out on an education.
Worsaj District in Takhar Province is one of them. Government schools do exist in Worsaj, but they are limited in number and most are not within easy distance of remote communities. The long distance to the nearest government school means that many children cannot access education. This is particularly an issue for girls, as parents are reluctant to allow them to walk alone to the nearest government school. The provision of CBE, close to home, means that parents are more likely allow their children, especially girls, go to school.
Afghan Connection: CBE support in Takhar Province: In 2011, AC began with the support 800 children in CBE classes in Worsaj; CBE became so popular that numbers had risen to 1507 by 2015. The success of the activity saw AC invited that year to begin a new project in the much larger and extremely impoverished district of Rustaq, which is also in Takhar. Rustaq is very remote and its people face huge challenges in their daily lives. Much of the adult population is illiterate yet they had a great desire for their children to be educated. The communities saw how AC had begun to transform Worsaj with support for education and understandably they wanted the same for their children. AC was determined to replicate the success of its Worsaj CBE project and its aim, since 2015, has been to provide CBE to remote communities in Rustaq where there is currently no provision for education. Since 2015 AC has been working across both districts.
Without funding from AC and the establishment of CBE classes, thousands of children in Worsaj and Rustaq would miss out on education because it is often just too far to walk to the nearest government school. In 2019, AC is supporting a total of 2,976 children in CBE (1545 children in Worsaj and 1502 in Rustaq).