Boston Globe Op-Ed Article

Barakat Program Director, Arti Pandey, wrote an op-ed article that was published in the Boston Globe on Saturday, January 23rd. The article laments the death of Kamil Khan, a director of education in Afghanistan who worked with Barakat to increase access to education for girls and women.

In the article Arti also presents Mr. Khan's daughter Azaada, whom he allowed to pose as a boy throughout her childhood so that she could enroll in school during the rule of the Taliban, as evidence of Mr. Khan's true commitment to girls' and women's education.

Barakat would like to bring attention to Mr. Khan's life and his dedication to this noble cause, for which he was killed.

12 March, 2008 – Maine Rug Store Supporting Barakat through Promotion

Salt Bay Trading Co, a store in Maine that sells rugs and fiddles, generously offered to donate a portion of their March and April sales to Barakat. Jenny and David Begin, the owners of Salt Bay Trading, are strong supporters of Barakat and have had a passion for Afghanistan for much of their lives.

On March 22, 2008, from noon to 5, they hosted an open house to celebrate the rugs, food, and culture of the Hazara, an ethnic group from central Afghanistan. We are very appreciative of their efforts to educate local people from Maine about the Hazara, and their generous donation to Barakat.

14 March, 2008 – Three Literacy Courses Being Added in Afghanistan

On March 22nd, 2008, the day after Nouroz , the ancient Persian and Central Asian New Year, Barakat will start three new Vital Literacy courses in Maimana, the capital of Faryab province. These have come about in response to a request put forth to Barakat Afghanistan by the Department of Education in Maimana. The importance of these Literacy Courses cannot be under-estimated. They fill a gaping need, and one which if left ignored can prove dangerous and regressive for Afghanistan as a whole–the urgent and pressing need of education for girls and women.

The Ministry of Education in Afghanistan is aware that female education is a challenge that must be addressed in a flexible and creative fashion. Consequently, they started Literacy Courses, which provide an environment where parents and guardians of female students are
confident and comfortable about their wards' safety and privacy. These Literacy Courses have two separate levels: Sowat Amausi which covers the school curriculum from 1st to 3rd grade, and Sowat Hayati also called Vital Literacy, which covers the school curriculum from 4th to 9th grade. All Literacy Courses are taught in the houses of neighbors in a locality and are led by female teachers; only girls and women are allowed to attend.

In order to run these Literacy Courses the government can approach NGOs that are judged capable and suitable for the purpose. Barakat's past experience in starting and successfully running Sowat Amausi and Sowat Hayati Literacy Courses speaks for itself. In 2003 Barakat Afghanistan first started seven Sowat Amausi Literacy Courses in Andkhoy, Qaramqol (pronounced 'kharamkhol') and Qurghan (pronounced 'khorgan') districts of the Northern province of Faryab with 147 students. Now, in 2008, Barakat has nineteen Sowat Amausi Literacy Courses in Faryab and Jowzjan provinces with 521 students.

The higher level Sowat Hayati or Vital Literacy courses were initiated on 5th June 2007 in Andkhoy, Faryab province. Barakat started four courses which are providing an education to 204 students. Prior to starting the courses Barakat provided an intensive teacher training
course to the teachers who would be leading these Vital Literacy classes.

As is evident, Barakat has a track record for running well-managed programs that deliver results. This is the reason that local governmental bodies feel confident about approaching Barakat for starting new Literacy Courses. We hope to keep you updated about the progress of these courses and the student turnout for each of them over the next few months. Inshallah they will progress unimpeded and will be the first of many more in Maimana.