On September 18th, as the rest of the world watched, fingers all over Afghanistan were stained for political participation. While watching the progress of the elections, did you wonder about the voting experience in Afghanistan? Can you imagine voting without being able to read? How would you know who to vote for or how to approach a complicated paper ballot? Would voting even seem worth it? We caught up with two women, both students in Barakat’s literacy courses, who proudly participated in this year’s voting process.
Shareen, 45 and Gulalay, 35, took an interest in Afghan politics and voted in the recent elections.
Shareen has been following politics in Afghanistan since elections were established after the Taliban fell in 2001.“When the Taliban was in power, women were not aware of politics and there was no opportunity for them to think about these things,” says Shareen.
After two years of great Walks for Literacy, our entire Cambridge Office was looking forward to another great event – and we got one! In a stroke of good news from the weatherman, there was lots of sun and a crisp breeze last Saturday as 160 Walkers came out in support of literacy in South and Central Asia. Participants came from many age groups and occupations, but everyone was motivated by the same cause – our footsteps were seen all around Cambridge! Our distinguished speakers, Mayor of Cambridge David Maher and human rights activist, Liz Walker, both touched on the idea of collective action in their speeches during the opening ceremony, and urged all participants, especially the youth, to value education and literacy.
After the Walk finished, we caught up with a few Walkers who were thrilled to share their thoughts about the event:
Barakat Board of Advisers member, Carolyn Lee, summed up her motivation for the Walk by stressing literacy’s importance in developing countries: ”The only way you will ever have peace in a country like Afghanistan is if you educate the women.”
By opening schools in these regions, Barakat aims to reach out to the country’s youth, particularly girls and women, who we believe are powerful agents of change in their families and communities. Barakat strives to create a thinking populace that will participate in their country’s democratic process and adopt leadership roles. This will spark change that can transcend generations and allow Barakat to fulfill its purpose of helping communities shape their own future through education.
- Provide merit-based scholarships for higher education for school and university education
- Open school libraries and computer labs
- Two parent-teacher meetings during the year, one for women and one for men. During the PTA sessions, women will be provided a free health check-up as an incentive to promote participation
- Expand school campus and increase infrastructure
- Provide regular teacher training and refresher courses, with an emphasis on creative and interactive teaching techniques
- Add one grade level each year until schools reach their capacity
- Increase student enrollment and hire new teachers accordingly
- Increase female enrollment by creating an all-girls section in each grade or operating two shifts during the school day
- Increasing subjects offered in each grade until capacity
- Providing classes after school and during the summer to students who need extra help with schoolwork