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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

Afghanistan Reads! | Afghanistan Lowalee! Community Libraries, Literacy and Books

This Afghanistan Reads! | Afghanistan Lowalee! Community Libraries, Literacy and Books program supports an expanding network of community, village and neighbourhood literacy classes, libraries and access to a growing collection of books. The program is designed to help reinforce literacy skills, nurture a culture of reading, and foster independent, lifelong learning by combining literacy classes with small libraries for new female literacy students and public school students. It actively supports teachers to improve literacy pedagogy and to adopt librarianship practices into their teaching.

Literacy rates among women and girls in Afghanistan have seen minimal growth in the last decade, despite the re-establishment of basic education for girls. Stagnant, low literacy rates can be attributed to the lack of local language print literacy material in the country, a lack of emphasis on reading in out-of-school contexts, and insufficient opportunities to read within and outside of school environments.

Afghanistan Reads! is a strategic response to addressing low literacy among women, at the community level, developed initially in partnership with The Linda Norgrove Foundation. Too often, literacy programs approach reading in a limited sense, such as textbook reading for school, which limits the evolution of reading comprehension in learners. The program goal is to raise the educational status of Afghan women and girls in target communities, in order to enhance human development prospects in Afghanistan.

“I learned more about teaching methods. Our capacity is built up and our knowledge is increased, thanks to this training.
The trainers were very intellectual and we learned more about teaching techniques.”       
       Literacy teacher trainee.

Afghanistan Reads! focuses on delivering literacy education using active learning methods and integrating life skills education (health, hygiene and nutrition), while working with communities to identify home-based classrooms, recruit teachers locally, and make the classroom-based libraries accessible to communities. We are also now increasing the program’s reliance on the method of one-on-one mentorship in lieu of training to enhance professional skills in reading promotion and librarianship, and applying a robust impact assessment framework so that we can systematically measure results and document those elements that are effective for literacy education in Afghanistan. This project’s goal is to raise literacy rates in target sites and nurture a culture of reading, through the achievement of four key results: 

•    increased functional literacy among rural females; 
•    increased practice of reading for pleasure among beneficiaries and their family members; 
•    enhanced local expertise and capacity for librarianship and reading promotion; and
•    strengthened resiliency and agency through life skills. 


CW4WAfghan's Afghanistan Reads! Lowalee! Community Literacy Program was recognized by the Library of Congress as a Best Practice Honoree in 2017. The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online.

Says Lauryn Oates, CW4WAfghan's Programs Director, "The event was terrific! I met representatives from great organizations and learned so much. It was an outstanding opportunity to profile Afghanistan Reads! for everyone. The library itself is a stunning building. We will be proud to hang this certificate in our Kabul office!"

We are also grateful that with this recognition comes a grant of $5,000 to continue our work to provide community literacy programs and libraries for women and out-of-school girls in Afghanistan. 

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
PO Box 86016, Marda Loop, Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2T 6B7

t: 1 (403) 244-5625

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