Empowerment Through Education Empowerment Through Education

Providing sustainable Community-Based Education for marginalised children, youth and adults in Afghanistan

Providing sustainable Community-Based Education for marginalised children, youth and adults in Afghanistan

There are many barriers preventing girls in Afghanistan from getting an education

– but CARE’s Empowerment through Education in Afghanistan (EEA) project, which has operated from 2011 to 2017 with support from the Australian Government, has helped rural communities in northern and south-eastern Afghanistan to send their children, including girls, to school. This has helped to change attitudes towards gender equality.

From 2007-2017, participation in education in Afghanistan has risen sharply. During the internal conflict prior to 2001, only 1 million children were enrolled in school – of which fewer than 50,000 were girls. Since 2001, school attendance has increased to 7 million children, including 2.5 million girls.

Fast Facts

  • An estimated 4.2 million children are still out of school; 60% are girls
  • Since 2015, CARE has supported the creation of 203 Village Education Committees
  • CARE works with 135 rural and remote communities
  • 88% of girls who completed lower secondary schooling went on to high school
  • CARE’s education model also empowers women and girls’ access to economic and social resources by building their confidence and leadership skills
  • Major partner: This project has been made possible thanks to generous contributions and ongoing support from the Australian Government

Overcoming barriers

Many girls in Afghanistan are prevented from gaining an education due to a large variety of barriers, including long distances between their homes and schools, safety and security issues, restricted movement, a shortage of female teachers, poor facilities, household responsibilities, early marriage and the lack of value placed on female education. However, CARE’s long history of working in the country, stretching back to 1961, has enabled it to help overcome those barriers. Since 2005, CARE has been providing sustainable Community-Based Education (CBE) for marginalised children, youth and adults in remote and rural areas with no access to formal schools. CBE involves a localised approach in recruiting local teachers and involving the community in the management and monitoring of classes. CARE’s model also empowers women and girls’ access to economic and social resources by building their confidence and leadership skills.

What we’re doing:

  • The project worked with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to train community-based teachers, providing mentorship, guidance, and support. This enabled them to become part of the formal education system.
  • Having known and trusted members of the community monitoring school activities through the Village Education Committees (VECs) made parents and community leaders feel comfortable with the community-based classes and has influenced even highly conservative, traditional households to allow their daughters to attend. VECs have also helped parents understand the importance of educating girls and to address barriers towards girls’ education. They provided an environment in which women and girls can participate in decision making.
  • Student peer groups and VECs have provided a platform for women and girls to build confidence and leadership skills.
  • Students received school supplies. This supported families in the target communities, many of whom were unable to afford school fees and materials.
  • There was strong cooperation and partnership between the project, Provincial Education Departments, District Education Departments and the Ministry through monthly coordination meetings. This supported joint planning and monitoring.
©Jennifer Rowell/CARE

What we’ve achieved so far:

School enrolment

During the first six years of the project, we’ve been able to help 24,811 Afghan children, of which over 18,000 were girls, to attend classes. Under the current phase from 2015 -2017 the project has supported 5,389 students (3,934 girls), 246 school teachers (89 female), and 205 classes in 135 rural and remote communities of 12 districts.

Improving the quality of teaching

From 2015-17 we’ve supported a large number of teachers to receive training from CARE on teaching skills. They are on track to meet the target of 80% of teachers demonstrating improved teaching methods and knowledge in the classroom, such as structuring classes and lessons.

Community mobilisation

CARE has supported the creation of 203 VECs since 2015. These involve parents, teachers and community members in the management of the school. Of the 182 committees at the primary grades level, 42% of members are female; at the Lower Secondary level, all 21 committees are 100% female. There are 611 committee members across the provinces, with the overall percentage of females at 48%.

Change in attitude towards educating girls

The establishment of community-based schools has changed community perceptions and attitudes towards girls’ education. In focus group discussions and interviews with Education Department officials, village elders and teachers, more than 90% of respondents said that they supported girls’ education and acknowledged the harm of underage marriage.

Built girls’ leadership skills and decision-making skills

344 peer groups with 2,247 members were established to provide an opportunity for girls to identify and discuss topics of mutual interest, including the importance of education, personal and environmental hygiene, health, personal histories and the benefits of libraries. Recreational activities and meaningful development opportunities were also promoted.

Women are acquiring more education and professional experience

88% of girls who completed lower secondary schooling went on to high school. Community-based teachers provided training to all 700 female lower secondary students. This will enable girls to continue their higher education as teachers/administrators in CBE or government schools or to work as health educators in their communities.

Vital lessons are empowering girls

Rowaina* is a 12 year old girl who lives in a small village to the east of Charikar City in Afghanistan’s Parwan province. She is optimistic, enjoys playing with her four siblings and dreams of becoming a doctor.

The nearest government school to Rowaina’s village, made up of more than 55 families, is only four kilometers away from her village. Yet because of the distance to the school, only adolescent males can walk and attend school. Living in a very remote area of the country, Rowaina and her friends face many challenges. Their dreams of furthering their education are often prevented because of long distances between their homes and schools; safety and security issues; a shortage of female teachers; household responsibilities and early marriage.

So with no access to the formal school, Rowaina was excited when CARE’s Empowerment through Education in Afghanistan program entered her village and established Lower-Secondary Community Based Education classes in her community.

Rowaina hopes that CARE’s education project will continue and be extended so it can support more children – particularly girls in the rural and remote communities. “I love my studies very much and never miss class at all. In class, I always listen to my teacher carefully and always active in all classroom activities. At home I try to read lessons and to do my homework very carefully until I pass my exams,” said Rowaina. “I regularly borrows library books and study at home and share what I learn from the library books with my family members.”

“I want to continue higher education in order to have a bright future. I hope my class can continue supporting me so that my dream of becoming a doctor in the future will come true.”

* Name changed to protect child’s identity.

a class of school children in Afghanistan

Read more about how we’re empowering women and girls through our other educational programs:

CARE Australia is accredited by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), responsible for managing the Australian Government’s aid program.

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