Afghan Girls Fund
 

The Afghan Girls Fund Educates Young Women and Girls of Afghanistan
Stewardship Update - August 2004

The National Geographic Society established the Afghan Girls Fund in 2002 when the expulsion of the Taliban made it possible for girls to seek education, a right they had long been denied under Taliban rule. With an outpouring of generous support, the public has donated more than U.S. $900,000 to the cause.

Along with our partner, the Asia Foundation, and their local partner, Afghan Street Working Children and New Approach (ASCHIANA), the National Geographic Society opened the National Geographic Center for Girls' Education and Training in Kabul.

Today at the center, every one of the 270 girls enrolled has passed mid-term exams. A number of the students reached a sixth-grade level of proficiency and "graduated" in May. The center is working with the Ministry of Education to facilitate the integration of these girls into the regular school system.

The education center provides accelerated academic courses and vocational training for girls 12 to 18 years old. With the recent installation of a diesel generator, the center was able to begin offering computer classes. Many of the students taking computer classes—especially girls in grades five and six—are also studying English.

In March the library, which had already outgrown its original space, was moved and enlarged. Parvaz, a 52-page, full-color Afghan children's magazine funded through Aïna, an international nonprofit group, is available to students in the ASCHIANA center's library. Aïna was founded in 2001 by world-renowned photojournalist Reza and is based on the belief that a free press is the foundation of a democracy. Parvaz, meaning "flight" or "to fly," is written in Dari and Pashto and covers health, geography, history, science, math, and special concerns to children, such as the danger of land mines.

Another collaboration between the Afghan Girls Fund and the Asia Foundation is the rebuilding of the Rabia-e-Balkhi school in Kabul. Named in honor of a celebrated female poet and nearly destroyed during the Afghan civil war, the school once served 10,000 female students in grades K through 12. Fifteen new classrooms are under construction and will be equipped with teaching materials, books, and furniture. A new library and resource center, the first of its kind in Kabul, will provide the girls with access to computers, the Internet, and computer training.

Thanks to your generosity, National Geographic is able to support these programs that contribute to the future of Afghanistan.



    Photo: Afghan girls improve their computer skills
Afghan girls improve their computer skills.

Photograph by Steve McCurry

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