In response to the ongoing social and economic situation, large-scale awareness programs and grassroots level interventions along with effective, sustainable support are essential actions to take in order to address the needs of Afghan children, adolescents and adults for education. Since 2005, WADAN has utilized all available resources, taken every opportunity, and maintains advocacy activities to educate Afghans. WADAN has worked in all 34 provinces to implement projects that support schoolteachers, principals and students, and to involve local religious leaders and other social multipliers including civic actors and government officials to advance opportunities for education throughout Afghanistan.
Working with local school Shuras, WADAN reopened 125 closed schools allowing 209,251 students and 2,354 teachers to re-access education through school safety initiatives between 2009 and 2012. WADAN has delivered capacity-building activities to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Maliks, and other community elders and mobilized them for school safety, child protection, and to encourage education for children in geographically remote areas. Since 2002, WADAN has mobilized and trained 6,401 members of CSOs, Maliks, Mullahs, and Community Development Councils (CDCs) on community mobilization, child protection, classroom observation, monitoring of classes, and capacity building activities for involvement in “back to school” campaigns and other public awareness interventions.
WADAN has implemented more than 30 projects throughout the country in partnership with UN agencies, Save the Children International (SCI), European Union (EU) funding through Terre des hommes (Tdh), the Central Asia Institute (CAI), and USAID, WADAN has delivered packages of assistance to the public schools and assisted Community Based Education (CBE) and Accelerated Learning Centers (ALCs) throughout Afghanistan. We have trained 128,484 schoolteachers and 15,400 principals in capacity-building activities from 2004 to May 2022. Sessions on child protection, psychology, and teaching methodology were conducted for teachers and principals during the education projects’ implementation lifecycle.
Currently, we cover 50,598 students in the 1,611 CBE and ALC classes in Badakhshan, Logar, Farah, and Nangarhar Provinces. Already 71,083 students (29% girls and 71% boys) have been part of 2,370 CBE and ALC classes that were maintained by WADAN between 2004 and 2022. UNICEF, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through SCI, and CAI supported these classes. These students received referral services under Child Protection services, school supplies were also distributed to them, and following CBE they were enrolled in the government supported schools nearest to them to continue schooling beyond the third grade.
From 2009 through the end of 2022, students already attending public schools have been provided with clean water, school supplies and hygiene kits, as well as refurbished classrooms. Under this component, 189,188 students were enrolled in public schools through public awareness and community inclusion campaigns from April 2018 through January 2023. The Malala Fund, Afghanistan Girls Learning Education (AGE) project through CAI, Global Partnership for Education (GPE) through UNICEF, and UNICEF’s Education Cannot Wait (ECW) programs are the main contributors to this initiative. The AGE, ECW, and GPE programs continue to meet education needs in Farah, Logar, Badakhshan, and Nangarhar provinces.
Now 35, Arifa Rohani is a “Made in Afghanistan” project participant from the project’s host community in Herat City. She completed her fine art studies at the University of Herat in 2010. Arifa’s father died when she was six years old. She explained the family’s situation, “We were destitute. When I graduated from university, I had to work to support my family, but my income was insufficient to meet our needs.” In 2011, Arifa opened a small art gallery near her home to exhibit and sell her calligraphy and paintings. She said, “I had no marketing approach, and could not earn enough to afford the rent of the premises or to buy supplies. I felt miserable and closed my gallery.”
However, after some years passed, Arifa was discovered by the WADAN outreach team and delighted when she was notified that she had met the project selection criteria for “Made in Afghanistan.” She joined the project on March 15, 2021. Arifa learned marketing skills and developed her design skills, she received a financial allowance, a monthly stipend to buy supplies; her ambition was revived and her artwork was nourished. She became an entrepreneur with her newly acquired business acumen. She said, “I also gained salable skills including painting on wood, pottery and glass. I have become prominent in Herat City.”
Arifa earns a regular income that averages more than AFN 10,000 per month through sales in Afghan and international exhibitions. In the US, her work has been sent to Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington DC. Handpainted storybooks and drawing and design work that includes painting on clothing and hand-blown Herat glass are Arifa’s current projects. “I was very inspired when my products were exhibited internationally; this would have been unimaginable before joining “Made in Afghanistan.” I was delighted when my work went to the United States. I wanted to understand how to approach international markets as I have learned how to take an active part in the local exhibitions. I have learned the skills that contribute to sustainable entrepreneurship and I will make my work sustainable.
Asma is a nine-year-old girl who was forced by her father, Waziristan, to work at the Torkham border crossing due to the severe poverty her family is suffering from. She lives with her parents, four brothers, and three sisters in Door Baba Village which is located in Gorkoh District, Nangarhar Province. It is a mountainous village on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “We walked for an hour every day to Torkham, I loaded and pushed a cart with travelers’ luggage between Afghanistan and Pakistan. My little body couldn’t do this heavy work.” Asma said.
Asma and hundreds of other boys and girls in Dor Baba were deprived of education as accessibility to public schools was hindered due to lack of schools in their territory, poverty, impassible routes, and remote mountainous locations. This area was identified in severe need of Community Based Education (CBE). WADAN community mobilizers and child protection teams established a CBE classroom in Gorkoh on July 1, 2019. The location was a Malik’s guest room donated for CBE. Asma started to study there but along with four other classmates she was forced to drop out and was forced to go to work in Torkham.
Child Protection Officers and the CBE teacher immediately met with the children’s parents, Mullahs, and community elders to try to convince them to keep their children in the class. Mullahs and Maliks were mobilized! Child Protection Officer Maiwand Momand, said, “Training messages were delivered about child protection, the importance of education, and community mobilization.” The Maliks and Mullahs began to advocate for children’s rights. Mohammad, a prominent Mullah in the Gorkoh Village, used the mosque for community mobilization and motivated people through his Friday sermon and in other gatherings too.
Asma and the other children returned to school. She is happy to be there with her siblings and classmates. She anticipates a brilliant future, “I am studying now. I want to be a doctor.” Nakhtar Lal, the CBE teacher, was impressed by this development. He said, “I was suffering when I saw these little girls and boys going to Torkham every day, but now I am happy as the Child Protection team and I were able to convince Mullahs and then the parent to support education. They all are committed now. Thanks to WADAN and thanks to UNICEF.”