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A lifelong process

Young student at the Kushan Khan School in Kabul. 

During this extremely challenging period for Afghanistan, NAC has remained steadfast in our education support for underserved children, youth, and adults in rural and hard-to-reach communities throughout the country. NAC’s work in education is focused on improving access to and quality of education for all. 

NAC sees education and learning as a lifelong process. This begins before birth with our work in educating midwives and teachers about pre-natal child development. We then address early childhood through establishing and nurturing playgroups – women-owned and -run informal kindergartens – which fill a critical gap in early childhood care and development. 

The process continues with NAC’s system strengthening for public primary and secondary schooling, where possible through providing «soft» support in education and training for teachers, school managers, and school management committees, as well as children’s empowerment through child-led organizations in schools; and «hard» support through building and refurbishing school infrastructure and providing books and stationery.  

Improving the quality of education 

NAC worked with 353 public schools and more than 500 community-based education (CBE) classes for 206 100 students (88 812 girls) in four provinces. This comprehensive program encompasses various activities, ranging from psychosocial support for children to capacity building of teachers and administrative support for school administrators and shuras.

As part of this support, we trained and mentored 7 234 teachers and school management committee members to increase their knowledge and skills towards improving the quality of education for children in Afghanistan. We also established and supported child- and youth-led organizations – in 2022, 3 842 students (1 987 girls and 1 855 boys) were involved in this initiative. 

This photo series shows the process of construction of a classroom in Mohammad Baqer Dala Primary School in the Malistan District, Ghazni Province.

Addressing transition 

NAC also addresses transitions by providing secondary school students with preparation courses for university matriculation exams. Our support continues to tertiary education through our THINK Lab initiatives where young people gain knowledge as well as both life- and livelihood skills for their future; and our work with Afghan and international universities to develop curricula for Afghanistan, strengthen Afghan higher education institutions, and provide hybrid education opportunities for students. We round this off with a focus on gaps in access to formal schooling and emergency education through establishing and supporting community-based education classes and temporary learning spaces for out-of-school children. 

In 2022, NAC provided 823 children (460 girls and 363 boys) with early childhood development (ECD) opportunities through our playgroups.  

Alternatives for older girls

We have provided alternative learning spaces for girls who were banned from going to formal schools and continued our support for the first school for girls in Andar District (established by NAC in 2022), a very conservative district in Ghazni Province. Our support for girls’ education includes non-formal education opportunities. For example, in Ghazni Province’s Jaghori District, our THINK Lab has served as a crucial alternative for older girls, ensuring they have continued access to education.

To further address systemic gaps in education provision and quality in Afghanistan, NAC implemented various initiatives, including THINK Labs, learning circles (as a form of community-based non-formal education), and winter camps, which engage children in activity-based learning during the winter months when schools are closed. These interventions directly benefited 5 339 children and youth (60% female) and have had many positive impacts.

Enhancing local ownership

In response to critical needs for improved education infrastructure, NAC implemented a total of 205 infrastructure projects including building and refurbishing classrooms, establishing temporary learning spaces, constructing water and sanitation facilities, building play- and sport grounds, and developing other school infrastructure to accommodate out-of-school children in schools – using a community contracting approach to enhance community ownership.

We have also continued our work in developing innovative teaching and learning materials, including resources on child development and inclusion and diversity in education for education planners, teachers, principals, and school shura members, and storybooks by children for children.

Support for education, especially for girls and those in rural and hard-to-reach communities remains a crucial part of NAC’s work. Severe restrictions on girls’ education remain in place, despite the efforts of the international community. NAC will continue to provide support where and how we can, working with stakeholders to ensure children and youth in the country are provided with opportunities to learn – a basic human right.