By Minaz Kerawala, Communications and Public Relations Advisor
“Ignorance is God’s prison; knowing is God’s palace,” wrote the revered medieval Persian mystic, Mawlana Rumi.
In Rumi’s native Afghanistan, Development and Peace — Caritas Canada is helping deliver children from ignorance to knowing through an education project that addresses pressing needs.
Challenges and opportunities
Despite two decades of progress, education in Afghanistan, especially of girls, is expected to suffer significant setbacks after the August 2021 Taliban takeover. Security concerns have forced several aid organizations, including some of our partners, to curtail many activities, especially ones targeted at women and girls. This when under a third of adults and only 17 per cent of women are literate1, and over 43 per cent of primary-school-aged children are not in school2.
However, not all is bleak.
Once enrolled, Afghan children persist in school. Of the kids who start primary school, 85 per cent finish and over 92 percent of secondary school entrants complete all grades3. Investing in Afghan education is therefore as worthy as it is vital.
Bringing the school to the children
In a largely rural province of Afghanistan, many children, especially girls do not go to school simply because the nearest school can be up to 20 kilometres away. That is why Development and Peace is partnering with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for a community-based schools project to bring education to these remote communities.
The three-year project will allow 180 students (92 girls, 88 boys) who are currently in Grades 1 to 3 to continue through Grades 4, 5 and 6. CRS was already supporting these students with remote learning resources when schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To make education safe and feasible for the children, CRS is basing the project in communities in which it enjoys broad-based support and buy-in; running classes in the children’s neighbourhoods in discreet locations, often in teachers’ homes; and delivering the government-mandated curriculum.
To ensure the project’s sustainability, CRS will also work with state schools, school management shura (committees) and government officials to build capacities and plan for eventually integrating the students into mainstream schools.
A continuing commitment, a capable partner
This community-based education project continues Development and Peace’s commitment to Afghanistan, which began with emergency relief in 2002 and evolved into a broader, longer-term women’s empowerment program.
We have had a longstanding relationship with CRS who, through years of working judiciously and diplomatically across Afghan regions controlled by various rival factions, are well-equipped to manage the challenges posed by Afghanistan’s new realities.
Being run in partnership with CRS, which is one of the few remaining agencies that can operate effectively in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, this project is a means for Development and Peace to continue serving and investing in the future of the Afghan people.
Education is an especially important determinant of Afghan girls’ life trajectories. Girls who stay in school tend not to be married off early and are known to become the anchors of several beneficial longer-term socioeconomic outcomes for their families and communities.
That is why Development and Peace is funding about half the cost of the project. As significant as this is, more funding is needed to expand the project’s scope and scale for wider impact. Your generosity can help sustain and spread this work and give more Afghan children, especially girls, a brighter future.
to help us spread the light of education to more children in Afghanistan.
- UNESCO Institute of Statistics. (2021). Literacy Rate. Afghanistan: Education and Literacy. Retrieved November 11, 2021, from http://uis.unesco.org/en/country/af.
- Ministry of Education, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), & Hall, S. (2018). All in School and Learning: Global Initiative on Out-Of-School Children – Afghanistan Country Study. https://www.unicef.org/afghanistan/media/2471/file/afg-report-oocs2018.pdf%20.pdf.