Ausaid Annual Report

australian agency for international development
  • Educating the children of Uruzgan

Educating the children of Uruzgan

The day after Lal Jan announced that there would finally be a school and he would be the teacher, he had 42 children sitting in his yard waiting for the first lesson.

Never in their lives had there been a school in the village. Out of all 90 families living there, only three people can read and write.

The village in Uruzgan's Tarin Kowt district is about six kilometres away from the formal school. What wouldn't be a problem in Australia poses insurmountable obstacles in Uruzgan Province. "Parents don't have the money to send their children to school by public transport (taxi or donkey cart) and they fear for their small children's safety if they were to walk the route," says Lal Jan.

Together with the lack of qualified teachers, the insecurity in this remote Afghan province is a key factor behind such poor levels of education. Only eight per cent of men and 0.3 per cent of women can read and write in Uruzgan. Eight out of 10 children do not go to school.

Improving the access to education is one goal of Save the Children's Children of Uruzgan program, funded by AusAID over four years to improve the health and education of 300 000 people, particularly women and children.

Setting up community-based education classes in remote areas is key to improving education levels. The classes are established in villages where the closest formal school is too far away for the children to walk and, like in Lal Jan's village, they jump at the opportunity provided by Save the Children and AusAID, where classes are organised close to the children's homes.

The program will establish 135 of these classes in Uruzgan Province by 2015. A total of 3750 children will benefit. Lal Jan's class in Tarin Kowt district is one of the first.

Caption: An Afghan girl enjoys her class in the new school in Uruzgan Province

Credit: Courtesy of Elissa Bogos, Save the Children