Aga Khan Education Service, Afghanistan

Educational Advancement of Caregivers in Remote Afghanistan through the Mother Literacy Programme

30 May 2017

Caregivers in remote areas of Afghanistan have benefited from access to basic literacy skills through the Mother Literacy Programme (MLP) of the Aga Khan Education Service, Afghanistan (AKES,A).

Gulsaman is one of the mothers who advanced through this training, having joined the programme shortly after it launched in the Balkh Province of Afghanistan.

For women like Gulsaman, obtaining a good education has been challenging. Growing up during the civil war, Gulsaman was unable to go to school due to a variety of challenges, including safety and access to quality education. In her adult years, as a mother, she felt the absence of literacy skills in her day to day life: "Being illiterate was very difficult for me. I always had a desire to learn and felt terrible not being able to read or write." Despite her struggles, Gulsaman was determined to educate herself. 

In 2009, AKES,A launched the Mother Literacy Programme (MLP) in conjunction with an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme. ECD Caregivers were taught literacy, numeracy and health skills to enhance the ECD classes and foster holistic growth for young learners. By providing caregivers with foundational educational skills, MLP also enabled them to succeed in continuing education, learning essential skills that would benefit them in their personal development and career growth as caregivers. "I was excited to join the Mother Literacy Programme. It was a difficult decision to make at such a late age, but the desire to learn was alive in my heart," explained Gulsaman.

After completing the programme, Gulsaman joined a local school to continue her education. Today, Gulsaman has advanced to Grade 11 and is planning on joining AKES,A’s English Programme in order to continue her educational success. Reflecting on her experience, Gulsaman said: "With the help of AKES teachers, I have learned to read and write, and improved steadily through these programmes. I am proud to be literate, and I hope to continue my studies with the aim of becoming a teacher in the future."

In Afghanistan, AKES programmes reach close to 25,000 students. Currently, it operates more than 70 early childhood development centres.  It also works in selected districts including Kabul to develop skills in English Language, Computer Programming, and Science & Mathematics. Adapting to local needs, MLP was reshaped into the Parental Education Project. The Project teaches primary caregivers about the child developmental process, health awareness, numeracy and language literacy development.

Written by: Hafizullah Momin