Every country needs leaders who are equipped with the tools, knowledge and confidence to build a solid foundation for development.
Schooling for girls is vital to the future of Afghanistan, which ranks near the bottom of the Human Development Index. Investments in education have been shown to improve development outcomes, while raising women’s income and self-esteem. Despite recent gains, Afghanistan has one of the world’s lowest school attendance and retention rates. Forty-two per cent of girls never complete primary education and only one in 10 Afghan women can read or write.
Since 2008, AKFC has supported a holistic effort to improve education for girls and women in 24 districts in four provinces: Badakhshan, Baghlan, Bamyan, and Parwan. Using a collaborative “whole school improvement” approach, AKFC and its partners increased enrolments and kept girls in school by improving the quality of facilities and teaching, while building parent, community, and government support. To date, 175,000 Afghan girls have been able to attend school and keep up their studies.
This approach reaches beyond the classroom to sustain girls’ education for the long term. It supports not only school-aged girls, but preschoolers, families, teachers, administrators, community leaders, and government officials who make decisions that shape girls’ learning opportunities. A flexible response fund supports transport, teacher upgrading, exam preparation, school facility improvements, and community-led initiatives to support girls’ education.
As a result of these efforts, more girls are entering school and staying on through key transition years. Many are also becoming teachers, often in their own communities, helping to overcome a shortage of qualified female educators. Where we work, ninety-three per cent of preschoolers are entering first grade and 95 per cent have continued from grade 9 to grade 10 – a crucial point when many parents worry about their daughters’ marriage prospects.
Our program also supports girls so they can sit university entrance exams. Nationally, only one in ten of those who pass the entrance exam are women, but we’ve seen nearly 60 per cent of graduating girls sit the exam, of whom more than half have passed.
To improve the quality of education, AKFC supports programs that create vibrant learning environments for the next generation. We invest in education systems and teacher training across the spectrum of learning—from early childhood to primary, secondary, and advanced levels. And we involve communities in educational planning and administration to strengthen their ability to support schooling in their villages and districts for the long term.