In western Afghanistan, CRS and its partners built a milk-collection center to test milk's quality. The program brought dairy farmers together so they can sell their milk more advantageously. (Photo: Laura Sheahen/CRS)
CRS organizes groups of women and gives them the basics they need to start small businesses, like baking snacks or sewing curtains. So for the bakery we’d build them a special clay oven and give them a stock of flour to start with, for example. When women can make a little money, it helps the whole household.
In many parts of Afghanistan, CRS forms women's groups to plan and begin viable small businesses. CRS gives them starter materials, such as pots to boil jam. The program helps vulnerable women like widows earn their own money. Photo: Laura Sheahen/CRS
What are the great challenges in terms of education for Afghan children?
After decades of war and the repressive rule of the Taliban, Afghanistan’s education system has been left without an adequate number of schools and qualified teachers. Literacy levels in Afghanistan are extremely low, with only 28% of the overall population estimated to be literate—meaning that finding teachers can be extremely difficult, especially in the most remote and rural parts of the country.
Distance is a huge factor. Out on the plains of Afghanistan, or in the mountains, people might live dozens of miles away from any town, much less a public school.
In some cases families are concerned about their daughters going to school. It’s not just a cultural issue—they could be worried about their daughter’s safety as she walks four miles of uninhabited territory to get to school.
What is CRS doing to help improve the education system for Afghans?
CRS works with villages to create schools, especially in remote areas where girls cannot easily reach public schools. CRS trains the teachers, provides the books and supplies, and does whatever it takes to get a school going.
To start a school, CRS meets with parents and community members to discuss their interest in education. Community members then commit to providing a space for a classroom—typically a room in a villager's house—and help identify a teacher.