More than 3.5 million people have moved back to Afghanistan after years living as refugees in Pakistan and Iran. Unable to afford decent housing, thousands had no option other than living in tents and abandoned public buildings without access to governmental aid and education. Some 3,000 families live in at least 31 informal settlement sites around the city.
According to the Afghan authorities, more than half of children in the city are not in school, and approximately a quarter of teachers have completed secondary school. Established in 2008, the Jesuit Refugee Service in Kabul and surrounding areas focuses on building capacity in learning institutions and providing quality education.
Staff organise workshops for teachers in schools, deliver pedagogic courses in institutes and universities, and directly run classes in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and orphanages. JRS Kabul is getting involved mainly in four areas: coaching children living in informal settlements, training women students in English and leadership, assisting blind students to learn English and conducting teacher-training workshops in schools and Kabul University.
In cooperation with the education department of Kabul, JRS organises training of trainer programmes to 150 students, teachers and university staff. For those participants who find it difficult to follow the course in English, educational materials are also translated in the Dari language. The course focuses on enhancing their knowledge of pedagogy, as well as their English language skills. Participants are encouraged to spend 4 hours teaching marginalised children in their neighbourhood.
Teaching English to marginalised children.
In coordination with the education director of Kabul city, school principals, community leaders, the local NGO, Aschiana, and parents, JRS staff offer English language classes to 350 children, mostly girls, living in the nearby Bagh-e-Daud and other IDP settlements. The settlements are inhabited by families who have come to Kabul, mainly from southern Afghanistan, in search of security and employment opportunities.
Students complete the course to help them gain admission to local primary schools. The classes are held in day-care centres of a local NGO, Ashiana, which provides services to orphans and single-parent families, as well as other centres in the settlements. Fifteen teachers and one programme coordinator mentor the students while also assess student's progress in the centres.
English Access Programme.
Through the English Access Programme in Marastoon School, Kabul, 50 students of Mariam Girls High School, receive intensive classes in English and computers over two years. The course contents are based on the Access Programme curriculum of the US Department of State, Kabul. The classes will be interactive, with priority given to developing their skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking English fluently. The students are given regular home assignments and monthly and quarterly examinations.
Stan Fernandes SJ
+91 11 4310 4661; +91 11 4953 4106
JRS South Asia is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus. The regional office in South Asia serves Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, Srilankan refugees in the Indian State of Tamilnadu and internally displaced people in Sri Lanka. Services include: education, skill training, economic programmes, healthcare, psychological support, disability centres, community development and emergency assistance. There more than 8,00,000 refugees presently in these four countries.
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