Education in Emergencies

Hi!

I am Bazgha Iftikhar, and I am very excited to be part of your blog, early this year I was given the opportunity to speak via Skype with a group of teachers from Alkira Secondary College. I am working with International Rescue committee (IRC) before I go in more detail and tell you about my work here, I would like to tell you guys little bit about organization I am working with. IRC is an International Non-Government Organization (it is non-profit organization) it is one of the oldest and largest organization dedicated to assisting people affected by conflict and disaster. IRC was founded by Albert Einstein in 1933. We work in 40 countries around the world and in 22 cities in US, you can find more about IRC and work it’s doing by visiting website http://www.rescue.org/  

Within IRC, I am associated with Child and Youth Protection Development Unit; we work in Education, Youth and Livelihoods as well as Child Protection. War, conflict and natural disasters affect children terribly and IRC works with affected communities to protect children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence and nurtures and develops their potential through innovative education, livelihoods and skill training programs. IRC helps communities through:

  1. The IRC provides counseling and services to young people who have experienced disease, abuse, exploitation or loss and separation from their families
  2. IRC “child-friendly spaces” provide the youngest victims of war and natural disaster with a safe place to play, participate in structured activities and to heal from trauma and loss while rebuilding a sense of normalcy.
  3. The IRC trains educators, constructs classroom, and supports schools that are attended by hundreds of thousands of children.
  4. We provide skills training to young people who have had their education or careers interrupted by war or natural disaster. More than half of those who receive such training are girls.

I am working with a project which focuses on basic education in Afghanistan as a Senior Technical Advisor for Education. Before I go in the details of the project I would like to tell you little bit more about education in Afghanistan, 45 % of the population in the country is under 15 years old; the country has one of the highest out-of-the schools populations in the world. Around 5 million school-aged children (40-50% of the age relevant population, of which 70% are girls) permanently not attending school. And 1.2 million students, who although are enrolled in schools, are permanently absent from school. Many areas of Afghanistan are marked by steep mountainous terrain in which numerous small villages are tucked away into remote valleys. Many of these rural communities are too far away from Ministry of Education schools for children to attend any school on a regular basis, particularly poorer students and girls. Apart from this addition obstacles to education are local customs and attitudes towards education and concerns about security. . Parents are often unwilling to send their children, particularly girls, to schools some distance from their homes due to the arduous nature of the journeys, security, risk to reputation, time not available to assist with household chores, as well as distrust towards unknown institutions and people. As a result of lack of access to educational facilities in rural communities/villages illiteracy is widespread.

There are lesser girls students in schools, particularly in rural areas, although in last decade literacy rates have increased and many girls are attending the schools but this situation is only in big cities. In villages at times children have to walk for 2-3 hours to get to schools and sometimes more; which in turn results in lesser and lesser students attending schools. Parents are willing to send their boys to MoE schools but girls are not allowed due to following reasons:
–  Poverty
–  Distance to Classes
–  Safety and Security
– Community and Social Norms
–  Lack of School Facilities
–  Lack of Teachers, particularly female teachers

The project I am associated with is a community based education project and we work in remote rural districts where MoE schools are far away from local communities, we have opened classrooms where we are offering primary education, accelerated learning classes (to children who have missed on schooling years to reasons quoted above) and literacy classes for adults. One of the main focuses of the project is to promote girls enrolment, and to train female teachers; because they are the most affected by the crisis in the country. The project is being implemented in 12 provinces namely:

  1. Kabul
  2. Herat
  3. Bamiyan
  4. Kapisa
  5. Parwan
  6. Nangarhar
  7. Khost
  8. Ghor
  9. Balkh
  10. Baglan
  11. Badkshan
  12. Paktiya

People of the communities, living in the provinces mentioned above have responded to our efforts positively, in Paktiya Province we have 96 % rate of girls enrolment, which is encouraging.

I encourage you guys to find these places on map of Afghanistan and learn more about them. They are historically rich areas, for example Buddhas of Bamiyan. I would be happy to answer your questions. I will travel to couple of these provinces after Eid (a religious festival here) and would be happy to share pictures of the classes and experience. Talk to you guys soon on Skype.

Regards

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32 thoughts on “Education in Emergencies

  1. Paktia(Paktiya) Province is in the east of the country and as said before, has the highest education enrolment rate among children in the nation of Afghanistan. The captial and provincal government are in Gardez and the governor is currently Juma Khan Hamdard. It is supposedly a mountainous region and shares it’s borders with Pakistan. Paktia Province is known as one of the more stable and safer regions within Afghanistan although militias play a large role in the government of the Province. The region ethnically is predominantly made up of Pashtun people.

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  2. Balkh Province is situated in the northern part of Afghanistan, bordering Uzbekistan in the North, Tajikistan in the North-East. Mazar-e-Sharif is the capital city of Balkh province. Prior to the attacks, when Mazar was considered one of the safest cities in Afghanistan, it was more famous for the building, the Blue Mosqu. The town is mostly made up of Muslims. Balkh has an incredibly long and rich history; its name is derived from “Bakht” meaning “fortunate” in Persian. Mazar-e-Sharif today is a community rebounding, rebuilding, and once again will be an important center for trade and transit.

    Source used:
    http://shenyanigans.blogspot.com.au/2011_06_01_archive.html

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  3. (5)’Parwan’ Province is located on the Northern side of Afghanistan and its said it is the most secure provinces in the country. The largest U.S Military base (Bagram Air Base) is set to be located there, the Governor is currently ‘Abdul Baseer Salangi’. There is an even mix of males and females of a percentage of 50-50, about three quarters of the total population lives in rural areas and the others in Urban areas. Parwan was involved in the Soviet War as the horrible fights took place in the area. As for the future the Government plans to build a power plant which can generate enough energy for the whole area. Parwan used to be a name of an ancient town in the Hindu Kush mountains many years ago. There is also a ‘Parwan University’ it was announced in 2006 it has facilities of Economics, Agriculture and Education.

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  4. Khost is a small mountainous province and one of the smallest as well it has a population of around a 700,000 people, it is located near the border of Pakistan, Khost’s current governor is Abdul Jabbar Naeemi. Khost or Khowst (The capital city of the province Khost) has been under America’s control since the 2001 US led invasion of Afghanistan it’s air based has been used by the US since 2007, the area is still being attacked by terrorist the last recorded attack happened earlier this month killing around 20 people. The sport of cricket is growing in popularity in this city.

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  5. An interesting comparison between Australia and Afghanistan is the percentage of the population under the age of 15 years. Why would it be that in a young country like Australia only 19% of the population is under 15 years old (that’s about 1 in 5), while in an old country like Afghanistan over 45% of the population is under 15 (almost 1 in 2)? What’s going on that would cause such a difference? (Reference: http://www.globalhealthfacts.org/data/topic/map.aspx?ind=82)

    Could this statistics map hold the anwer? http://www.globalhealthfacts.org/data/topic/map.aspx?ind=96

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  6. Nangarhar Province is in the east of Afghanistan. Nangarhar capital is the city of Jalalabad. The population of Nangarhar is around 1,400,000 , its not that many really.The province of Nangarhar has decreased it’s production of poppy by up to 95% in 2005, its at least one of the success stories for the education program. Nangarhar is represented in domestic cricket competitions by the Nangarhar province cricket team. It’s the sport that they play around. A team member Hamid Hasan was born in Nangarhar and he currently represents Afghanistan in international cricket. Since 2004 to the present Gul Agha Sherzai has been the governor of the province.

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  7. It seems that the Blakh province has been thriving, destroyed, rebuilt and then destroyed again. I wonder if this is what it’s like for the other provinces, just sitting there in ruins, and unable to rebuild or to move forward because of their lack of resources, income and education. From the information provided up there as well, these provinces were innocent places, and just happened to be in the way or somehow seemed to be opposing some other person or group. They would be killed, their town destroyed and because no one is there to help them, they can’t get back up. The birth statistic seemed to be pretty appauling as well. Not to mention at this very moment, a lot of these places are still not safe and not even a proper home for the people living in Afghanistan.

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  8. Kabul is situated in the east of the country, is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The capital of the province is Kabul City, which is also Afghanistan’s capital. The population of Kabul province is 3.5 million people as of 2009, of which almost 80 percent live in the urban areas. The current governor of the province is Ahmadullah Alizai.

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  9. Kabul is the largest and capital city of the nation of Afganistan. Kabul is the 5th fastest grwoing city and the 64th biggest city in the world. The metropolition region populates 4 million people. The current governor of the province is Ahmadullah Alizai.Kabul is rich in the production of textiles, processed food, wood products and chemicals. This generates the economy for the city as well as the country.

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  10. Herat is located in the western part of Afganistan and is next to the country of Iran. The capital city of the Herat Province is also called Herat. The province of Herat has a population of about 1,762,157 people which is mostly a rural society. The current governer of this province is Daud Shah Saba. There are 16 districts in Herat and the main languages that are spoken are Persian and Pashto. The main sports that are played there is Soccer, but cricket is quickly spreading through the province.

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  11. Ghor is located in central Afghanistan, towards the north-west; the capital of Ghor is Chaghcharan. The population of Ghor is on the 635,302 mark and the area is over 36,479km squared. In the later stage when the Bactrian language was invented Ghor meant mountain. The remains of the oldest settlements discovered by a person name Lithuanian who was an archaeologist in 2007 and 2008 dated Ghor back to 5000 BC. Ghor was also the centre of the Ghurid dynasty in the 12th and 13th century. The remains of their capital Firuzkuh, including UNESCO World Heritage site the Minaret of Jam, are located in the province.

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    • I wonder Teighan if the people of each province are more or less the same, like in Australia (someone from Western Australia or Queensland is not much different to someone from Victoria!), or whether there are differences in culture throughout the provinces. I know several different languages are spoken.

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  12. I researched Herat. I noticed that the province has been divided into 17 districts, among that 1000 villages within them all. It has a population of about 1,762,157, within that Herat has 397,456. It is a multi-ethnic and rural society. Herat is the capital of Afghanistan. It is located in the western part of Afghanistan, next to Iran. It makes up the south-western region of the country. Within the history of Herat, it has been through battles and invasions throughout the 19th century, where parts of the city were destroyed. Herat has the area of 54,778km2. The main languages they speak are Persian and Pashto.

    I completely agree with what you’re doing, and love it. You’re a great help to these provinces, to these people. Thank you Bazgha Iftikhar!

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    • You will be able to meet Bazgha Iftikhar online in a Skype session in a couple of weeks Lauren. She is looking forward to letting you all know more about her work and answering your questions. You will enpoy meeting her Lauren she is a very nice and a very interesting person.

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  13. Ghor Province is located in Central Afghanistan. The capital of Ghor is Chaghcharan. The population is estimated to be around 630,000 people and is 36 000 square kilometres.Almost 99% of the whole population lives in rural areas leaving only 1% to live in urban areas.Dari is the areas most spoken language. The protruding religion in the province is Islam. Sports played in the area are football, tennis, taekwondo and karate.In only 2010 a cricket team was founed to play in domestic tournaments representing Ghor.

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  14. I researched the province Parwan. Parwan province is located in the north east of Afghanistan and is one of the safest of the 34 provinces, it has a population of 620,900 and the capital of Parwan is Charikar. The main languages they speak are Dari and Pashto. The safe province also has the largest U.S military base in Afghanistan. Half the population are females and the other half are males, around 73% live in rural distrcits and the rest in urban areas.

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  15. Paktiya has the highest education enrolement in Afghanistan, the captital of Paktiya is located in “Gardez”, the approximate population of Paktiya is 506,000 people. The main languages that are spoken are Afghanistan but in the country area their are other languages spoken.

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  16. Baghlan, being one of thirty four provinces in Afghanistan is situated in the north. The name comes from one of the major towns in the province, Baghlan, even though the capital Puli Khumri. The Surkh Kotal is a Zoroastrian fire temple and its ruins are found in Baghlan. A fire temple is a place of worship in Zoroastrianism. Fire in any form is deeply respected by Zoroastrians. Fire along with clean water are agents of ritual purity in the Zoroastrian religion. Zoroastrian or Mazdaism and Magianism is a philosophy and religion which is based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra in Avestan). It was formerly one of the worlds largest religions. The religion was most likely created some time before the 6th century BCE in the east of ancient Greater Iran (Persia). The name Baghlan derived from Bagolango or “image-temple”
    I actually really enjoyed researching this, as you can see from the amount of info about the Surkh Kotal, old temples and religious practices fascinate me. I also found out that the lead nation of local Provincial Reconstruction Team is Hungary and has been since 2006. Being Hungarian myself I was really excited to find this out 🙂
    keep up the good work Bazgha. What you are doing very well may have an effect on the education for the better.

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    • No need to be scared Dawn. I have known Bazgha Iftikhar for several years. She is a very understanding person and she has worked in education with many young people. She understands that we are not familiar with the part of the world she lives in and that is part of the reason she is happy to Skype with us. I am sure you will not say anything “stupid and horrible” as you wrote Dawn. That you are concerned about that shows that you are sensitive to other people’s feelings and Bazgha Iftikhar will see that too. She wants you to be curious and wants you to ask your questions. That is how we build understanding. What things so you wonder about Afghanistan? If you are unsure of whether your question is OK or not you can check with your teacher.

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  17. I decided to do research on Kabul. I found out these few facts:
    -Kabul is one of the highest cities in the world
    -Kabul is one of the most important cities in central Asia
    -Kabul is sometimes also spelled Cabool, Caubul, Kabol, or Cabul when describing things from history
    -Kabul is over 3,500 years old
    -The current governor of Kabul is Ahmadullah Alizai.
    -The city has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history

    When i was in grade 6 my teacher suggested i read a book called Pavana by Deborah Ellis. My teacher having read the book several times and loving it suggested I read it to think out things outside of Australia and become more culturally aware of other cultures and their history. Pavana is a book set in the city Kabul and is based closely to real life in Afghanistan. It’s a short novel describing the life of Pavana, living under the rules of the Taliban, a harsh religious society where women aren’t allowed out of the house without a man and must be covered head to toe in public. When soldiers take away Pavana father, Pavana is thrust into the position of looking after the family whilst her father is away. Without a man around the house, Pavana is forced to cover up and go into the market place of Kabul and look for a job to provide for her family. Everyday Pavana dresses up as a boy to save her family’s life, an everyday is in constant danger by sneaking around the Taliban with the harsh rules all just to survive in the tough city Kabul.
    After reading Pavana i enjoyed it a lot and really began to think how easy we have it growing up in Australia. We take so much for granted and rarely give anything back. We take our education for granted not really thinking that in some country’s people ant as lucky as that and they don’t have the opportunity to go to school every day because of natural disasters, wars and family issues. If you ask people at our school if they would rather stay home or go to school, guaranteed most of the students would say they would stay home, and a few would choose to come to school. If you went to Kabul and asked a group of kids if given the choice, would they go or not to school, most of them would choose to go to school because they don’t have that opportunity that we take for granted.
    I think it is wonderful what you are doing Bazgha, for those kids in Afghanistan. It is a wonderful thing and if i had the chance i would definitely join you to make a difference in people’s life. I support you fully and i can’t wait to talk to you on Skype 🙂

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    • I am enjoying reading your insightful posts Keisha. I particularly like that you make reference to books that you have read in the past and make application of their message to real life. This is a major aim of education Keisha; to expose a person to ideas and experiences that gives them an understanding of the world and people outside their own neighbourhood. Such understanding can bring peace between people. You have really got the point! 🙂 When you talk with Bazgha on Skype later this week you could ask her why she chose her line of work. She has an interesting story.

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  18. Thank you, Mr Thwaites 🙂 I’m really excited to talk to Bazgha on Wednesday and I think I will ask about her line of work, thank you, it sounds really interesting. I really want to find out how Bazgha decided to help that cause and how she came across the idea of helping them and becoming a part of it. If given the opportunity I’m sure heaps of people would help Bazgha with what she is doing in Afghanistan as she is helping people every day. I’m really enjoying these blogs, they are a lot of fun to do and you find out so much more knowledge of the outside world, not just what goes on inside of the City of Casey. I think by the time we finish this blog, we will all be more culturally aware and open-minded people. Thanks Mr Thwaites

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  19. The Kapisa province is located is located North-East in Afganistan the capital is mahmud-i-Raqi, the estimated population is 364,900, The main spoken laungage is Persian, Pashto and Pashto. The province covers an area of 1,842 km2 it is the smallest province in the country, it has also been called the “gate way to Kabul”. They just opened a “girl” school in Kapisa funded by the Danish government.

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  20. Hi Guys!
    Can’t tell you how excited i am to be able to talk to you, i have read your blog posts. It’s great to know that you have been doing some research to understand more about the country. tomorrow i will tell you little more about Afghanistan and its history. See you online 🙂

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    • We are all looking forward to the Skype session too Bazgha. Doing the research on Afghanistan has made us more aware of how little we really know about Afghanistan and its people. Thanks for meeting us and we look forward to meeting your colleague Najeeb too.

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  21. the article was helpful and was informative. it gave information about afghanistan who in other cases for most people is synonym to war and confelct. it talks about a side of afghanistan that we have never seen, or thought of, the fact that things are being done to educate those people affected by war is great.

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  22. Pingback: I taught my children about tax by eating 32.5% of their ice cream: seizing teachable moments | Batteries Not Included

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