The Afghanistan Women’s Empowerment Program (AWEP) 

The Afghanistan Women’s Empowerment Program (AWEP) was a project of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) that aimed to advance women’s empowerment by increasing the social and economic participation of women in 36 districts of Takhar, Baghlan and Bamyan provinces of Afghanistan. The beneficiaries include rural women, personnel of the Afghan Government’s Departments of Women Affairs (DoWA) and District Governor Offices (DGOs), religious leaders, the local Community Development Councils (CDCs), as well as members of civil society organizations and media. CW4WAfghan partnered with AKFC, and it implementing partner, Aga Khan Foundation Afghanistan (AKFA), in this project, with CW4WAfghan’s role to deliver literacy education to female beneficiaries in four districts of Takhar province, over a four-year period, 2016-2020, drawing on its successful methods from the Afghanistan Reads! Program in delivering adult literacy classes for AWEP beneficiaries. The project achieved excellent results. For example, in Kalafkan district, 97.8% of the female students reported that they had learned something new or useful during the program, 100% learned how to read and write and were practicing reading and writing skills daily, and the community libraries were visited over just a few months. In Baharak district, 100% of learners reported they feel more confident about managing their daily lives. Students, teachers and community members visited the 10 Baharak libraries 3,308 times during the period August 2017 to March 2018. The project trained 30 teachers in basic teaching methods, librarianship and reading promotion, and 1,800 women completed life skills classes.

AWEP was undertaken in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and with the generous financial support of the Government of Canada

 

In Their Own Words

Roya: “I am now able to read the numbers on my father’s mobile phone! The greatest change I have experienced since attending literacy classes is my increased confidence! I am now advising my elder sisters and other friends when I am needed and I have learned the ways of good communication and respecting elders.”
Lameya: “This is a golden opportunity for me and I don’t want to miss a second of it, so I come earlier than everyone and practice my lessons. I feel my dreams are coming true when I hold a book and read for myself. I share the stories with my mother and younger brother. I am also able to read some news in newspapers, TV ads and also can solve math questions. Thank you to those who support girls’ education and fund our literacy class and library!”
Fatima: “By attending the literacy course I will be a better mother for my children and will be able to help them with their studies. Since the start of the course my confidence level has increased and now life has a whole different meaningfor me. I have also made many friends in the literacy class.”

Mohsina (a teacher): “I was born in a middle class family in Takhar Province. When I was a five, I was enrolled in a government school and, luckily, I was allowed to finish. I struggled to convince my family to let me continue my educationand made it to the Faculty of Law at a private university, but facing resistance, I was forced to quit and joined GIZ (German NGO) organization as a literacy teacher. Then I found out about a posting for a literacy teacher at CW4WAfghan in our own village. I trained and soon had 45 students in my own house in two shifts. All my students are adult women who have never been in any education program. They are excited tobe here and already after a few short months they have learned to read and write all Dari alphabets and write their names and simple words. Every day, first we discuss their problems and challenges and then we solve them together.

Since joining CW4WAfghan, I have participated in two training workshops, a lifeskills workshop and a pedagogy teacher training where I learned how to teach adults, how to organize the classroom, how to prepare a lesson plan and apply it, and how to assess my students’ and many more topics. Now, I can conduct workshops for my students and I hope that, by attending these classes, their lives improve in many ways, including better managing their income and expenses, considering better hygiene and good nutrition for themselves and their families, and taking care of themselves during and after pregnancy.”

Grant to Sisters 4 Sisters program of PARSA

For over 10 years, until 2020, CW4WAfghan provided grants for operational and programs funding to PARSA (Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support of Afghanistan), with the last grant supporting PARSA’s Sisters 4 Sisters Program (S4S), that provides mentorship and personalized attention for groups of at-risk women and girls. The program’s approach addresses the challenging social and security circumstances that Afghan girls experience as they attempt to succeed in school and prepare to join the workforce, with four pillars: 1. Mentorship; 2. Psychosocial Health (“Girl Talk”); 3. Physical Wellbeing; and 4. Life Skills. PARSA was established in 1996, and endured through the era of Taliban governance, conducting secret literacy and economic programs for women. Visit their website for more details and to read about their many innovative community development programs.

The Wakhan Initiative for Literacy, Education and Development (WILED)

As part of the Afghanistan Reads program, and funded by the Business for Better Society this project responded to a request from local activists to improve access to education in this remote part of Badakhshan province. The project provided literacy education for 240 people in the Wakhan Corridor of Badakhshan province, in six different villages. Each literacy class received a library, accessible to all literacy students, their families, and local community members. Twelve teachers were trained in literacy pedagogy and adult education approaches, and also received coaching in literacy education, librarianship and reading promotion. All 240 literacy students also benefitted from life skills education covering topics such as first aid, nutrition, maternal health and rights, and more. The project succeeded in supporting higher education rates in Wakhan and improved local capacity for managing and delivering quality learning and teaching.

House of Flowers Orphanage

The House of Flowers (HoF) is a unique orphanage in Kabul that provides a home as well as an innovative education program for orphaned children aged 5 to 18. The House was founded in 2002 in order to help meet the critical needs of destitute children who had lost parents. Children in these situations were sometimes living on the streets or in situations of extreme poverty and/or violence. The HoF was designed to provide a safe and supportive home and a very strong and unique educational program for these children, giving them the chance to grow up in a developmentally healthy environment and also to recover from the traumas many of them had experienced. The House is currently home to 27 children, one third of whom are girls. Since 2002, the House of Flowers has operated under a protocol with the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Disabled and Martyrs (MoLSADM) of the Government of Afghanistan. The children come to the House through recommendations from neighbors, family members and the MoLSADM. The staff then investigate the socioeconomic situation and assesses whether the need for a home for the child is genuine and legitimate. The orphanage was initially founded by an organization known as MEPO (Medical, Education and Peace Organization), and has been operated by an Afghan non-governmental organization (NGO) known as HEWAD since its founding.  From its inception, the philosophy of the HoF environment provided for the children has been based on Montessori learning and teaching principles, emphasizing inner development and inner strength through meeting children’s developmental needs. For example, the children at HoF are integrally involved in the House community. They have responsibilities but also freedom. They are given experience in life skills in the House to help prepare them for adulthood. They learn skills of conflict transformation, self-awareness and compassion, and also develop strong social skills. Children have joined the House of Flowers along the way, through recommendations from the MoLSADM. As the children grow older, some of them have begun transitioning out into the wider world, working part-time and earning their own money. Those who have left the House frequently return to visit, and the staff keeps close tabs on them to make sure that they continue their studies even after having left.

Using the DD Library to Support Girls’ Success in the Konkor Exam

As students in Afghanistan complete high school, those who wish to enroll in university write a national examination known as the Konkor. The pass rates of this exam are higher among male students than among females, and one reason is likely males are more likely to access preparatory classes in private institutions, as well as other means of support to prepare for the exam, that female have more limited access to. In response to this problem, The Asia Foundation conceptualized a project using a systematic, cost effective, sustainable, and geographically representative approach: Providing the opportunity for Kankor Exam preparation training to girl students by their own school teachers and during their regular study time. This activity was launched in 300 schools across Afghanistan. In addition to supporting teachers to effectively prepare female students to pass the exam by focusing on the questions one might expect to be included in the exam, CW4WAfghan’s Darakht-e Danesh Library was mobilized to increase critical thinking and problem solving skills in teachers and students. The DD Library made available a variety of learning materials, study guides, and interactive features that helped students and teachers better grasp subject knowledge by engaging their thinking and analysis. Students in remote areas accessed these tools from an offline version of the DD Library. DD Library team members traveled to the schools and supported them to access and use this technology-enabled learning tool on site.

With funding from:

Fanoos/Lantern: Teacher Training for Afghanistan

The goal of the Fanoos/Lantern Fund: Teacher Education for Afghanistan Program was to provide training for 1,000 in-service teachers each year, half of whom will be female, in rural Afghanistan. The teachers registered in the program were trained in active learning methods, as opposed to traditional rote learning. Their training had a heavy emphasis on hands-on math and science as well as student-centred social studies and language learning, utilizing highly qualified Afghan Master Teacher Trainers. Upon successful completion of training, teachers are certified by the Afghan Ministry of Education and, as a result, are eligible for a salary increase as certified teachers. We worked to intensively train teachers in both methods (pedagogy) and subject matter, as a powerful way to increase the quality of the public education system, and improve learning outcomes among students. The project’s goal was to raise learning outcomes by improving the quality of public secondary school education in target locations, contributing to Afghanistan’s long-term human development objectives by investing in the country’s human capital. Specific target outcomes include enhanced performance among trained teachers in pedagogical skill and in subject knowledge; enhanced pedagogical performance among trained teacher educators; participating schools equipped with resources that enable application of the training methods, including school science labs and school libraries; and the capacity development of school administrators in participating schools. The project budget was $400 per teacher trainee, which included the cost of basic training and numerous supplementary activities to reinforce the teachers’ professional development, including the equipping of all participating schools with School Starter Kits: one modest science lab and one mini library to provide the necessary resources for engaging students in active, hands-on learning. Quarterly reports are available for Fanoos. Please contact us to request a report. 

The Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (KIMS) in Kandahar City was committed to promoting the participation of women in the economic, political, social, cultural and civic life of their country, and is provider of employment-oriented education that has created significant change for students in Kandahar, particularly women. The KIMS project promoted economic independence and social stability for 175 women and their families in Kandahar. The Professional Education Development project provided 10 months of scholarships for 175 women to attend training in English, Communications, Journalism and Computing. Training included computer skills, business communication and English language, organizational behaviour, leadership, human resoures and conflict management, and fundamental accounting principles. There was a significant need for professional education and economic development, particularly for women in southern Afghanistan. Illiteracy in Kandahar Province was estimated at 71.7% in Kandahar Province (according to the Ministry of Education), the average family income was estimated at just $37 per week and 32% suffered from some form of food insecurity (Danish Refugee Council, 2013). The high rate of illiteracy and unemployment contributed to the continuous subjugation of Afghan women.

Afghan Women’s Resource Centre (AWRC) was the first partner for CW4WAfghan in 1998. The initial grant of USD $2,500 helped cover the rent for their offices and women’s resource centres in refugee camps. Following that, funds were provided annually by CW4WAfghan for many projects with AWRC. AWRC was founded in 1989 to address the urgent needs of Afghan refugee women. AWRC’s stated vision for their organization is to work towards “a future where Afghan women are active agents of positive change in their community and country”. AWRC serves women and children in the provinces of Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa, Laghman and Ningarhar. Their main programmes include Community Mobilizations & Advocacy, Education, Community Empowerment, Supporting Civil Society Organizations. CW4WAfghan also helped to re-establish their offices in Kabul in 2002, to expand their activities and establish a suboffice in Laghman and funded a community library in Kabul.