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Because she’s a girl

  • Published at 12:47 pm August 15th, 2015
Because she’s a girl

Over 28% of Afghanistan’s population is literate, and among women, the rate is only 12.6%, according to the CIA world factbook. Malala Yousafzai once said: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world,” and that is exactly in line with the education program operating in BRAC Afghanistan.

BRAC, which started its journey in Afghanistan, is currently operating two education projects, namely the Girls’ Education Challenge project funded by DFID-UK and Community-based Girls’ Education project in Afghanistan funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD-Canada) to educate 123,984 girls and boys through 4,115 schools, reaching a total of 91.77% girls.

The main purpose of these projects is to provide education through community-based schools, giving Afghan girls and boys a chance to attain standard literacy and numeracy skills.

One of the major problems in Afghanistan still remains a lack of access to education, especially among young girls. Often, the schools are not located in proper buildings, to keep away from the eyes of insurgents who strictly oppose girls going to schools.

In such scenarios, there is a constant dearth of textbooks and other reading materials. As such, BRAC is working towards access to education for young girls through the mobilisation of the community shura (religious) leaders, and is doing so in collaboration with the ministry of education. The goal of the program is to remove barriers that stand in the way of girls accessing education, for reasons such as early marriage, long distance to and from schools, and an inherent tradition that does not encourage girls’ education.

To address these issues and others, from July 23-31, the executive director of BRAC international, Faruque Ahmed, visited BRAC Afghanistan. During his visit, he met with the second vice president of Afghanistan, Mohammad Sarwar Danesh, minister of labour, social affairs, martyrs and disabled, Dr Nasrin Oryakhil; honourable minister of education, Professor Asadullah Hanif Balkhi; deputy minister for academic affairs, Ghulam Jelani Humayun; and the governor of Baikh province, Atta Mohammad Nur. So how is BRAC’s philosophy of work in sync with the Afghan government?

The vice president acknowledged the fact that BRAC started working in Afghanistan during a volatile period and helped improve its socio-economic condition. EDBRAC International mentioned that BRAC had started its program operations based on the Afghan government’s priorities. Under the capacity development program, BRAC trained several government officials and school teachers, and provided scholarships on the Masters program on Public Health for BRAC Afghanistan staff and ministry of health staff.

BRAC Afghanistan was one of the organisations who worked with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) of Afghanistan to develop its strategic plan, and also trained all 34 provincial officers of MRRD in managing rural development projects.

The minister of labour, social affairs, martyrs and disabled shared that she is trying to create jobs for people, especially women. Currently, more than 65% of the staff in her ministry comprises of women, but they are not in decision making roles. Discrimination against women is still one of the big challenges in the path of development for Afghanistan.

During the meeting with the education minister, he also asked for more capacity building and teachers training programs. The ED noted that the education program of BRAC Afghanistan primarily focuses on girls’ education and creates employment opportunity, since all the teachers are female, and can help in this regard -- to increase the participation of women in all sectors across the country.

Like all the other BRAC operating countries, in Afghanistan too BRAC is working for the betterment of the most disadvantaged groups and with the government’s support, change is already in progress. 

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