A daughter’s dream, a mother’s dream – Voices of the first graduates from the literacy classroom –

[Original by Maki KATO, Afghanistan Project (March 10, 2020); Translated by K. Adachi/M. Olagoke]

JVC works for the educational activities in Afghanistan together with a local partner organization YVO. Men and women over 15 years old learn reading and writing of a local major language; Pashto, and mathematics for 9 months. They aim for the educational level equivalent to the third grade of public elementary schools in Afghanistan. We have a system to cooperate with whole villages, where villagers also participate in selecting teachers and the location of classrooms. What is unique to this is that we do not call teachers from outside but select them from among villagers.

Women studying alphabets together.

This literacy activity started in the fiscal year 2018. About 280 people have completed the course in the first period, where 90% of them were women. Below are the interviews of some

Ms. Mahtaba (about 40-year-old woman), a graduate of the literacy classroom of the teacher Razia

I have 10 children. The teacher of my classroom is actually my daughter, Razia. When I was a teenager, I wanted to go to school but this dream did not come true because the public order was too bad. I didn’t want my children to face the same as me, so I let my sons and daughters go to school. Because of that I did housework alone without the help of my children. Razia graduated from high school with excellent grades. When JVC started the literacy classroom in our village in 2018, Razia applied to the teacher position and was employed. Then she told me, “I know that you wanted to study reading and writing all the time. But you sacrificed yourself for our education. My dream of being educated came true thanks to you. This time let me make your dream come true”. So, I started learning letters in my daughter’s classroom. Now I can write my name and read alphabets and figures.

Aqalmena (16-year-old woman), a graduate of the literacy classroom of the teacher Razia

When I was small, I could not go to school because the public order was too bad. I was able to participate in the JVC’s literacy class because it was opened in my neighborhood. After completion of the course, I wanted to learn more and asked my parents to let me go to school. When I showed the certificate of my graduation from the JVC literacy class to the principal of the school, he approved my transfer to the sixth grade and now I am going to the school every day. One day I will go to university and it’s my dream to become a teacher.

Ms. Shafiqa (50-year-old woman), a graduate of the literacy classroom of the teacher Hazira

My husband is sickly and cannot work for our family. I could not help him before, but I learned letters and calculation in the literacy class. Now I have started a small business at my home. I stock such goods that women want to purchase like clothes, shoes, creams, and cosmetics. I have no trouble to set prices and sell goods. I am so happy.

I shed a tear especially when reading the first story of Ms. Mahtaba, because I thought of the environment of the mother and daughter that “being educated” itself is their dream. I heard many other comments such as “I’ve become able to use a cell phone”, “I’ve become able to understand the expiry date of medicine”, “I’ve become able to distinguish the important documents and stop throwing them away by mistake”, “I’ve become able to read alphabets and study the Quran easier than before (although the Quran is written in Arabic)”, and so on. These are concrete changes of their daily lives.

At present, about 250 students of women and men are going to the literacy class of the second period. I look forward to hearing more of such stories from next region.

Afghanistan is our homeland.

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