Since 2011, AC together with its local delivery partner, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), has focused its educational efforts on Takhar Province in Northern Afghanistan. The initial priority was to support education for local communities in the remote district of Worsaj, where barely a single adult woman can read or write.
Through the work of AC, educational opportunities for children in Worsaj have improved significantly and today, most children are going to school. In 2015, we were asked to support replication of this project in Rustaq district. Rustaq is a large, impoverished district, also in Takhar, with a population of 270,000. The need for education is great and teaching standards are low, just as they were when AC started work in Worsaj District in 2011.
We build classrooms, wells, latrines and sports facilities at existing schools with little or no infrastructure.
Schools are 10 classroom constructions with a computer room/library and science lab or 6 classroom school constructions. Safe, separate schools for girls and boys make this project acceptable to the conservative elements of society, and mean that girls have more opportunity to access and complete an education.
Provision of separate schools for girls encourages parents to let their daughters stay in school beyond grade 6. Listening to the needs of local communities and operating in a culturally sensitive way has helped to achieve this result.
Community-based education is a simple, effective and cost efficient way to deliver education to children in remote communities who cannot reach the nearest government school. The establishment of community-based education classes gives children the chance to both access and complete a basic education. Without this children, girls in particular, could be denied an education.
Classes are set up where children live too far from the nearest school. The village provides a space for learning. AC funds the teachers’ salaries, stationery and books. Teachers receive bespoke training and support.
More than 3000 children in Worsaj and Rustaq are currently supported through this initiative. Community-based education is very popular and this programme has expanded considerably since 2011.
There are 88 teachers (74 female and 14 male) serving AC-funded schools, many of whom were educated in schools built by AC and who have also received teacher training funded by AC. Due to continual advocacy by local communities and school management committees, the Afghan government now pays for a number of teachers’ salaries. AC currently funds the remainder. The aim is for the government commitment to increase over the long-term.
Standards of teaching in Afghanistan, are poor. There are few female teachers, which presents a real problem as parents are reluctant for their daughters to be educated by men once they reach puberty. Consequently, many girls are denied an education.
We provide teacher training to primary and secondary school teachers from government-funded schools and community-based schools in rural Afghanistan. As women can teach both boys and girls, our focus is on training female teachers.
Training includes subject competence, mentoring and inclusive education support (for teaching children with disabilities and special needs).
More than 1000 teacher-training sessions have been funded for teachers in Worsaj and Rustaq.
Since 2011 there have been considerable improvements in this area. 50% of the population now has access to safe drinking water; all families have micro-hydro-electric power; many bridges have been built, and over half the road from the nearest large town of Farkhar now has tarmac.
Thanks to the work of Afghan Connection in supporting education, the majority of boys and girls can now access education. Barely a single adult woman is literate and these communities are determined that their children should have an education.
Rustaq is a remote and impoverished district in Takhar Province, North Afghanistan. It receives very little in the way of aid and few NGOs work there. Its people face huge challenges in their daily lives.
Much of the adult population is illiterate, yet they have a great desire for their children to be educated. The communities have seen how Afghan Connection has transformed the nearby district of Worsaj through support for education, and have requested our help.
50% of schools in Rustaq have no buildings and thousands of children have no access to education.
"It is the passion and the determination and the courage that sets Afghan Connection apart. Here is no wishful thinking, but direct action to bring girls into education in Afghanistan." MICHAEL MORPURGO OBE