» Afghan police better their lives with UNESCO literacy project
16.08.2016 - Education Sector

Afghan police better their lives with UNESCO literacy project

© UNESCO

Two Afghan police workers have helped to turn around their lives with the UNESCO Literacy Empowerment for Afghan Police (LEAP) programme.

Ms. Aziza was forced to become the family breadwinner when she discovered her new husband was a heroin addict.

The mother of two, who works as a police patrolwoman in Faryab Police Department, said: “I married a young man in accordance with my parents’ demands but I didn’t know that he was a drug addict. I spent many very hard days and nights as a result.”

She had studied in school but only up to fifth grade and a lack of finances meant she could not continue. When she realised she would have to support her family, she applied for a job as a patrolwoman.

In order to better her prospects, she enrolled in a UNESCO-run LEAP class. LEAP, which is supported financially by the Government of Japan, is part of UNESCO’s wider Enhancement of Literacy in Afghanistan (ELA) programme which has enabled the graduation of 600,000 youth and adults (60 per cent female) since its inception.

After studying hard, she took her final examination, passed successfully and was recruited to her current position as a corporal in the Faryab Province Police Department. “I intend to continue with my studies which I know will give me a stronger professional profile,” she said.

Solved a hundreds of problems

Gul Rahman, a patrolman at Paktya Province prison security unit, has greatly improved his ability to serve as a policeman as a result of his literacy class. He is married and the sole breadwinner for 12 family members.

“Afghanistan has suffered nearly four decades of devastating war and insurgencies, and because of this disruption I could not achieve my aspiration of becoming literate,” he said.

When the chance came to join the prison’s LEAP class, he took it. He says that being able to read, write and count has “solved hundreds of problems.”

In particular, he learned how to deal effectively with the prisoners’ needs. “Before, illiterate prisoners were asking me to write lists to pass on to their visitors of things they needed, but I was unable to help. Now I can read even formal letters and memos. I can also support my supervisor in the preparation of patrolmens’ work schedules,” he said.

“In my private life, I am able to record my daily expenses in a notebook so I can estimate and control my expenditure on a monthly basis. And when I go to the bazaar to shop, I can read the expiry dates of goods and commodities.”

Now he plans to continue his lessons until he reaches high school graduation level and can become a police officer.

Statistics from the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Afghanistan show that in 2010 about 70 per cent of the 155,000 strong police force was functionally illiterate. UNESCO launched the first LEAP programme in 2011 in 19 of the 34 Afghan Provinces with funding from the government of Japan.

LEAP Phase I developed and trained a network of 500 volunteer police literary facilitators and a team with the Minister of Interior Affairs Literacy Unit. The second phase was launched in October 2013 with the aim of building on the existing framework.

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