In Remote Afghanistan, a Second Chance at Education

Ms. Golsom Shojaee works on a math problem with a student in an Accelerated Learning Center in Daikundi, Afghanistan.
Golsom Shojaee works on a math problem with a student in an accelerated learning center in Daikundi, Afghanistan.
USAID
Centers bring out-of-school students up to speed
“The only way that girls can stand on their own feet and understand their rights is through education.”

February 2017—It’s barely daybreak when Golsom Shojaee sets off on a motorcycle across the mountains of central Afghanistan. Her husband, Mohammad, is the designated driver. Her mission is to ensure that remote accelerated learning centers are operating smoothly.

Golsom monitors the centers for the provincial Department of Education in Daikundi. Located primarily in mountainous and isolated areas, the centers are part of the USAID-supported Community-Based Education program that gives women and children a second chance at education in remote and underserved communities.

The program targets young women and out-of-school girls and boys who were unable to attend school earlier in life, impeded either by conflict, long distances to formal schools, or a lack of resources and female teachers. They can complete two grades per year through the accelerated learning centers, allowing them to catch up and subsequently reintegrate into the formal education system.

Golsom, a graduate of Kabul University, is the only woman in a team of three community-based monitors and is responsible for ensuring that 20 of the 50 accelerated learning centers in her district run smoothly.

“I like visiting classes in remote areas and I support the teachers by showing them how they can best prepare for their class,” says Golsom, who started working with the Daikundi Department of Education six years ago.

Mohammad drives her to the learning centers across unpaved steep roads. “I believe what she does is the right thing and for the good of people and girls,” he says proudly before inspecting the motorcycle ahead of their journey. “I help and support her, and want to contribute to her good work.”

“I never could have dreamed that one day I would be able to support these communities to establish classes for girls’ education,” says Golsom. “It is my dream that all girls in the country can one day receive an education.”

Under the Community-Based Education program, which runs from 2014 to 2019, USAID supports the Ministry of Education at central, provincial and district levels in 13 provinces. In 2015, the program established 71 accelerated learning centers. During 2015 and 2016, more than 81,000 children, 51 percent of whom were girls, enrolled in community-based education classes and obtained access to quality education. Of the nearly 3,000 classes, about 2,000 are located in community-based education schools and about 1,000 in accelerated learning centers.

The program has also recruited almost 3,000 teachers, including 1,000 women, and has printed 3.5 million textbooks for middle and secondary schoolchildren across the country.

“The only way that girls can stand on their own feet and understand their rights,” says Golsom, “is through education.”

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Last updated: March 02, 2017

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