World Vision Afghanistan
article • Tuesday, May 16th 2006

Afghanistan: Girls’ attendance doubles at schools

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Using baseline numbers from 2004 when World Vision began its school enhancement programming, 8,522 girls were attending schools under the USDA-supported Food for Education programme. Two years later, in March 2006, records show attendance at 16,909.

Tim Pylate, World Vision’s USDA Food for Education programme manager, was ecstatic when he saw the figures. “A 98 percent increase It’s incredible Attendance has doubled!” Boys’ attendance during the same time period increased 31 percent.

A 98 percent increase It’s incredible Attendance has doubled!” Boys’ attendance during the same time period increased 31 percent Pylate attributes the high numbers to the remarkable success of the USDA-funded programme. “The comprehensive package of services that World Vision is providing in Ghor and Badghis provinces includes teacher training and school supplies that are helping create the positive learning environment that kids need for success.”

Under the Food for Education programme, students also receive monthly food rations. Pylate notes that this is also a strong incentive. “The positive influence of the food on children’s health and nutrition has had a large impact on student attendance, too.” While the programme has no monitoring mechanism for child health, the family response to school feedings has been significant.

During the former Taliban regime (1996-2001) the education of girls was strictly forbidden, while boys received religious training. It should come as no surprise that families have a renewed interest in sending their children back to school.

Culturally, girls can only be taught by other females and there are more girls demanding education than there are women with the skills to teach them. In the village of Char Taq, district capital of Jawand and the base for World Vision Afghanistan’s Jawand area programme, girls’ attendance has sharply increased since the school, funded by World Vision Canada, opened last May. Sultan Ahmad, education field officer in Jawand reports, “At first there were 37 students. Two months later, 55. Two months after that, 100. Today, there are 200 girls!”

However, in Jawand and elsewhere, the limited number of female teachers remains a problem. Culturally, girls can only be taught by other females and there are more girls demanding education than there are women with the skills to teach them. But through women’s literacy programmes, also funded by USDA, World Vision is hoping to help change that. It will take time, but Afghan school girls and the women enrolling in literacy programmes are showing in numbers that they are interested and will not be left behind.
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