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Afghanistan Reads! | Afghanistan Lowalee! Community Libraries, Literacy and Books

The Afghanistan Reads! | Afghanistan Lowalee! program has been running for many years now, in some of the most remote communities in Afghanistan. 

Key lessons we have learned:

Literacy requires ongoing practice. Cultivating a love of reading helps sustain and grow a culture of literacy. That is why all of our literacy classes are equipped with classroom libraries of local language books for all levels. 

Literacy should be “alive.” School-based literacy learning must be bridged to learners’ out-of-school lives. We ensure our literacy students have access to material that is relevant to their realities, such as the life skills curriculum that is integrated with the literacy program. 

“I learned more about teaching methods and techniques. Our capacity is built up and our knowledge is increased, thanks to this training.” ~ literacy teacher trainee

Literacy classes can be stepping stones to formal education. Gaining foundational literacy skills facilitates entry into the formal education system, for both women and men. Literacy classes must be purposefully structured to facilitate transition into regular school. The AR! project uses a tool called the Personal Learning Plan to that end.

Literacy is inter-generationalAll of the available evidence tells us that literate mothers raise literate daughters. The project includes strategies to explicitly link parental literacy with support to children’s education, such as encouraging women to read to their children.

DID YOU KNOW?

CW4WAfghan’s Afghanistan Reads! Program was recognized by the Library of Congress as a Best Practice Honoree in 2017. The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online.

A room of her own. Libraries can play a critical role expanding opportunities for women to interact with other women outside their families, to exchange ideas and access peer learning, and to find support networks—all critical elements of gaining confidence and independence. 

Community buy-in is essential. CW4WAfghan only opens libraries upon invitation from communities, usually after community members have seen or visited one of our projects. This policy has ensured that our projects have not faced any significant security concerns.

Cost-sharing. We ask communities to contribute in-kind to the project to instigate ownership over project outcomes. Usually, the community contributes the space for the library and literacy centre.

Mentorship, training and monitoring. The project places great emphasis on building skills within teachers to undertake reading promotion activities, and our pedagogy is one that is hands-on rather than classroom-focused. One-on-one mentoring, hands-on practice, and exposure visits to libraries positively impact making use of the libraries in teaching.

The Linda Norgrove Foundation

In 2011, CW4WAfghan began a close partnership with The Linda Norgrove Foundation. and successfully launched the Afghanistan Reads! program. The Linda Norgrove Foundation was established in October 2010 in memory of Linda Norgrove, who was devoted to ensuring that the people of Afghanistan would achieve prosperity and stability as their country was rebuilt. The Foundation’s primary goal is to help women and children in Afghanistan.

In 2020, we marked the 10th anniversary of the LNF 10k, with people walking or running in locations across the globe during the first 10 days of October. With these dates coinciding with our annual symposium once again, participants from several of our Chapters held socially distanced walks to recognize this partnership and celebrate the life and legacy of Linda Norgrove while raising funds for the important work of the foundation.