14 March, 2008 – New Scholarship Program for Higher Education for Girls

The challenge of female education in Afghanistan is one which must be met every step of the way, at the primary, secondary and higher education levels as well. With this motivation guiding us Barakat is going to start a Scholarship Program for Higher Education for Girls
and Women called Takhaza-e-Dokhtaran. A literal translation of the term means 'Request of the Girls.'

Barakat did indeed receive written letters of request from the girls who have been chosen for the scholarships. All the letters, without exception, express their ardent desire to continue their education because they see it as the only way out of their current situation of poverty and grueling hard work. All the girls who have been chosen for the program are from poor family backgrounds and cannot afford to pay tuition fees in school or university which would come to $550 per year. They are, nevertheless, good scholars and have the potential to continue to grow as promising students, who can then go on to other professions like teaching, nursing, etc. As things stand they earn their living by manual labor or else work at home, taking care of the house and family.

The girls range in age from 17 to 23. Many of the girls could only join school after the Taliban had left, or had to cease attending school during their reign.

23 year old Aliya is in 9th grade in Andkhoy's Lycee Yuldoz. Her father is crippled and their means limited. She herself contributes to the family income by weaving carpets, as does 17 year old Noorjan.

Noorjan studied till 7th grade in Barakat's Ersari Academy School in Attock, Pakistan when she was there as a refugee. She returned with her family to her hometown of Andkhoy, Faryab in 2006 and has since been unable to re-join school because the family's financial means are constrained.

Hamida is 18 years old and attends 6th grade in Lycee Yuldoz in Andkhoy, Faryab. After the death of her father, her mother re-married but unfortunately, she does not have support from her step-father to continue her education. Consequently, she is looking now towards us as she struggles to continue studying.

As you are aware, Barakat already provides primary and secondary education through Sowat Amausi and Sowat Hayati Literacy Courses for girls and women, as well as running two formal schools with separate classes for boys and girls in Jowzjan and Faryab, the two Northern provinces of Afghanistan. However, this would be Barakat's first foray into higher education.

In this we would like to share the request of the girls with you – one check of $550.00 would send one girl to school for one year, and make an immeasurable difference to her future. Please consider giving a donation to Takhaza-e-Dokhtaran.

16 May, 2008 – Our Video Debut

Take a trip with us to Barakat’s work in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. See the faces of the women and children we serve and the landscape and colors of the countries we work in. Catch a glimpse of the busy streets of Pakistan, the white mountains of Afghanistan, the eternal rivers of India. See what we do on the ground in formal and informal education settings and learn that our costs are small indeed:

*$65 to send a child to a Barakat school for a year;
*$40 to enable one girl to attend a Literacy Course for a year;
*$550 to sponsor a girl in Afghanistan to continue her education for a year; and,
*$1000 to run a Literacy Course for 25-40 girls for an entire year.

Link to YouTube Video.

16 May, 2008 – Grant from Unitarian Universalist Service Committee for Teacher Training for Human Rights in Afghanistan

What is the grant for?

The Cambridge-based chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) recently awarded Barakat with a $10,000 grant to run a program in Afghanistan for teacher training in human rights, under the program category of ‘defending civil liberties and access to democratic processes.’ The UUSC, the service and development arm of the Unitarian Universalist Church, is committed to advancing human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with organizations who are working in the field to realize their vision of a world free from oppression and injustice.

Why provide training on human rights to teachers?

The vital importance of this issue cannot be underestimated, for Afghanistan is a fledgling democracy struggling to educate its people about the processes and beliefs that constitute an informed citizenry. The role that teachers play in this process is quite simply irreplaceable and unique. Knowledge should ideally precede action, and providing knowledge is in itself a form of action. Teachers are one of the most effective means of dissemination of knowledge, but to do so they must be trained and prepared.

What is the reach of the Project?

The Project aims to educate 44 female and male teachers working for Barakat Afghanistan and 40 teachers working in schools that are wholly funded and managed by the Ministry of Education (Waziriat-e-Mahroof) of Afghanistan about human rights as enshrined in their Constitution, with a special emphasis on women’s rights. It will demonstrate the link between the current state of women’s rights and the rights and protections guaranteed to them by law. It seeks to contribute towards the creation of a society in which men and women think of themselves as equal and treat each other accordingly.

Is it a good way of disseminating information on human rights?

Barakat has been putting special emphasis on the education of women, through its formal schools for boys and girls as well as through the Literacy Courses, which are only for girls and women.

Education in established educational institutions is also possibly the most delicate and careful way of handling this topic, which would otherwise be met with strong resistance from the male members of the community. Teaching both male and female teachers about human rights and then moving on to the topic of women’s rights, keeping within the broad overarching framework established, is a sensible and safe way of introducing human rights education in Afghanistan.