Adult Literacy

Afghanistan Table of Contents

Functional literacy courses which had existed since the 1950s were considerably developed during the 1970s, along with appropriate teaching and reading materials for new literate. The politicized promotion of adult literacy by the PDPA after 1978, however, was greatly resented. In the 1990s, aid providers enthusiastically sponsor adult courses, but it is difficult for new literate to maintain their acquired skills because insufficient attention is given to producing suitable reading materials.

Current Activities

Teacher training, textbook development, supplementary readings, curricula, school supplies and construction are all emphasized by agencies assisting Afghanistan's education sector. In many instances, literacy and numeracy are combined with, health, dental care, demining, agriculture and other skills training. Goals emphasize literacy for productivity so as to build human capacities, but, as in the past, social needs are secondary. According to the 1995 work plan prepared by twenty-six Afghan and international NGOs and three UN agencies, their programs serve 20 provinces. Again, provinces such as Ghor, Bamiyan, Nimroz and Badakhshan continue to be neglected.

Despite these efforts, education receives only about 10 percent of the funding provided for other sectors. Schools are still without buildings in many areas and sustainability is questionable because of insufficient coordination, underutilized trained teachers, inattention to quality improvement, inadequate teaching materials, monitoring, and evaluation.

Not enough attention has been made to devise special education courses to reach young, one-time mujahideen who opted to go to war instead of completing their education. These restive individuals are unable to submit to constructive discipline such as school attendance, yet they have no technical competence to enable them to contribute productively to the society. Existing programs, therefore, fall far short in human resource capacity building which is arguably the most crucial need facing Afghanistan today.

In areas administered by the Taliban, emphasis is placed on maximizing religious subjects, schools for girls are closed and female teachers are forbidden to teach. Many NGOs, on instruction from their donors, have suspended assistance in those areas where female education is curtailed. Others seek alternative options such as home schools, but the education system as a whole is beset with grave limitations on key issues such as equitable access and quality instruction. Several future generations will be severely handicapped as a result.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress