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Celebrating and Supporting Literacy

Of the six million children enrolled in primary and secondary school, 35 percent are girls.
Of the six million children enrolled in primary and secondary school, 35 percent are girls.

As we celebrate International Literacy Day, it’s important to take a step back and take a look at how much progress has been made in the field of education in Afghanistan these past 11 years.  Did you know that in 2002 only about one million children were enrolled in schools in Afghanistan?  Now, there are over eight million. At USAID, as part of our commitment to literacy around the world, the Agency and several of its international partners have launched “All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge in Development” to reflect our commitment to use innovative techniques to help children around the world learn to read.

Today, girls comprise almost 37 percent of students in Afghanistan’s schools, a massive increase from 2002 when almost no girls were enrolled.  At USAID, we’re supporting community-based schools in Afghanistan that allow children – especially girls – to receive an education if official government schools are unavailable. Through these efforts, over 72,000 girls in roughly 4,000 classes receive high quality educations. As part of USAID literacy efforts, close to 100 million textbooks have been printed for children in grades one through 12. More than 680 schools have been built or refurbished since 2002 as a result of USAID partnerships. More than 10,000 students are now computer literate thanks to innovative USAID programs.

USAID is also funding a technical advisory unit within Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education  in support of a national literary center and a national education strategic plan, both designed to promote reading for men and women ages 15 and older.  The education ministry’s primary goal is to increase the national literacy rate to 48 percent from 26 percent of the adult population by the end of 2014. 

As with all of USAID’s development projects, the goal with the literacy efforts focus on Afghan leadership and sustainability; the literacy projects themselves provide training for over 20 lead trainers, 40 provincial trainers, 250 district trainers and over 5,000 village facilitators.

USAID is also building provincial training colleges across the country and faculties of education for other higher education efforts.

Last updated: October 24, 2016

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