Afghanistan: Reconstructing through Education
The objective is to increase the opportunities for returnees and disadvantaged students by providing training in English and Dari language, Mathematics and Computer skills. It is expected that the trainees gain knowledge in English, computer and communication, leadership and peace building skills.
As schools are closed during the winter, JRS uses the opportunity to conduct lessons in the classrooms: 2-3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for students in five government schools and three literacy schools. The English, Dari and Maths lessons for street children are conducted in partnership with Afghan Peace Volunteers. JRS also serves children in Sharak-e-Police camp for forcibly displaced groups.
In addition to these classes, JRS also prepares children of grades 11 and 12, through special training at three learning centers, for the national competitive pre-university exams. They help youth get admissions to government universities and higher education institutes. JRS classes are attended by 1.464 children and youth, of whom about two thirds are female.
Stationery and learning materials are provided to all the students. The street children and those living in the camp are provided with nutritional food supplements.
Together with the Afghan Ministry of Education JRS is pursuing the vision to provide equitable access to quality education for all in order to enable them to participate actively in the reconstruction of their society. We support this process by reaching out to children and youth living on the margins of society, and to their teachers. This way we contribute to the formation of an educated population.
JRS Afghan teachers conduct English and Computer classes in Tajwar Sultana Girls’ High School and Hazrat Shams ul-Mashayekh Girls’ High School for 329 students (299 girls and 30 boys).
English language training courses are conducted in Mawlana Abdul Majid Musafa Ghaznawi Girls’ High School, Hakim Nasir Khusraw Balkhi High School, Khawja Jam Elementary School, Arzan Quemat Literacy School, Arif Shahid Literacy School and Qalin Bafi Technical Literacy School for a total of 527 students (381 girls and 146 boys). Many trainees of the Literacy Schools are young adults who missed education during their childhood, often because of poverty and forced displacement.
Exam preparation courses are run in Tajwar Sultana Girls’ High School, Mohammad Ismail Hassan Zai School and in the Afghan Peace Volunteeers’ Centre for 255 students (215 girls and 40 boys).
Basic Dari, Maths and English language courses are conducted for about 350 street children. Special lessons/training on peace building are conducted in all the classes.
Parent-Teacher meetings are organized to keep parents informed about their children’s performance and to strengthen fruitful relationships between parents, JRS teachers/staff and students.
The vision of JRS is not only to strengthen academic learning, but also to empower young people to become self-reliant agents of social change. JRS recognizes that in Afghanistan, a country so grievously stricken by conflict and violence, peace building is a crucial tool to bring about social change and sustainable development. Accordingly, JRS has plans to make peace building – with a strong focus on reconciliation – a systematic part of its education programming and to involve two of its local partners as well as key influencers in local communities to help build a culture of positive peace. This planned intervention, with the goal: To foster non-violent, safe, and inclusive schools and communities, will also serve to pilot a JRS International resource pack of lesson plans in reconciliation for teachers that is designed to be adapted to context.
JRS has started this new project in Kabul and will roll out the peace-building course to train teachers and core team, who work in JRS centers and also in government schools.
A major ongoing challenge for all JRS programs in Kabul is insecurity and disruption of peaceful daily life of its citizens, which often hampers travel/transport and prevents/delays children from attending classes.
In most learning centers, infrastructure to conduct classes is substandard (lack of classrooms, furniture, black/white boards, appropriate lighting, and heating in the cold winter). In winter, conducting computer classes is also a challenge, as for hours, if not days, there is no electricity in the city.
Most of the students attend morning classes without breakfast as they come from very poor families. Providing supplementary food to help them focus on their studies was delayed for weeks this year, due to government bureaucratic procedures.
Many children come from communities that need special attention in order to be integrated and study productively in class. Often cooperation and support from the management of government schools is minimal.