CW4WAfghan PROGRAM UPDATE: Literacy classes underway in Bagrami.
Literacy, and particularly female literacy rates, is among the best measures of sustainable development. This is one reason why education deserves to be put on a pedestal within aid and development assistance.
When citizens are educated, they are better equipped to tackle problems like poverty, disease and instability, reducing the burden on foreign donor governments. Yet in Afghanistan, literacy rates have remained stubbornly low, despite numerous other human development indicators, such as maternal mortality and access to primary healthcare, skyrocketing over the past decade. Data from 2011 (UNICEF) found that only one in five young women (aged 15 to 24) was literate.
There are several reasons for this, and among those we at Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) have identified, is a lack of reading material. Many people who have limited schooling, such as a few years of primary school, lose their literacy because of limited opportunities to apply it. There is a very weak local publishing industry, with most books being imported and of limited relevance to new readers in Afghanistan.