29.05.2018 - UNESCO Office in Kabul

UNESCO celebrates milestone with Ten Years of Enhancement of Literacy in Afghanistan (ELA)

Fatima (in the middle), says: “My whole life has changed because I am now a literate person” ©UNESCO/ Sidiqzai

Enhancement of Literacy in Afghanistan (ELA) is the UNESCO flagship initiative established to support the Ministry of Education to improve adult literacy. It is the largest adult literacy program in Afghanistan, and reflects creative and longstanding partnership amongst UNESCO, the Ministry of Education and Governments of Japan, Sweden and Finland.

The ELA program has been ongoing since 2008. So far, it has undergone 3 phases, and in March 2018, the current phase (ELA III), successfully transitioned into the Adult Literacy & Non Formal Education (ALNFE) program, which will last until 2022.

There was a time when many members of the public believed that being rural or poor was an excuse not to have literacy. Now after 10 years, the visibility and results of ELA have affected how people in Afghanistan view opportunities for education. Many now consider that literacy can bring them out of poverty to a better life. More communities and families are working together to see that their members build a brighter future through literacy classes and skills based learning. Ten years ago, we were trying to encourage adults to learn how to read and write, but today some of those learners help their own children with school lessons.  Moreover, those who participated in the ELA programme have requested more education in the form of the provision of learning a new skill – which has resulted in the new Skills Based Literacy programme.

Fatima is one of those learners in Naw-abad Zargaran, a village of center Bamyan province. She graduated from the Basic-General Literacy (BGL) program last year, now she is learning in one of Skills Based Literacy (SBL) classes. She has four children, with her last son, Mihdi, in the fourth grade of school. Fatima stated that she can now help Mihdi in his lesson and homework. The proud mother thanks her being able to have basic literacy skills as having a positive effect on her life. Now she wishes for an opportunity to keep on learning by going to the university.

Fatima’s success story is just one example out of 1.2 million Afghans who now have the basic skills of literacy – reading, numeracy and writing.  After 10 years of ELA, with the implementation and management of the of the MOE Literacy Department, the help of UNESCO and generous funding from Japan, Sweden, Finland and recently, South Korea, there is hope and optimism for those who have been left out of the education system and are making efforts to return to education as youth and / or adults to broaden and improve their lives and the communities in which they live.

For more information please contact George Kadiri, g.kadiri(at)unesco.org


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