Saturday, May 29, 2010

Afghanistan Dreams Too

You cannot change someone who doesn’t want to be changed.

You cannot.

You could spend countless hours of your life believing that every piece of advice that pours out of your mouth is actually going to be not only heard, but be put into action, but that would be a life lived in ignorance.

Your words can only guide, not do.

And this is an important thing to realize because Afghanistan, and for any other war torn country, advancement and productivity could not be achieved unless the citizens desired to seek them. No amount of NGOs, international aid workers, or political figures could help the people of Afghanistan unless they wanted to be helped.

So today, we’re going to highlight an individual who wasn’t born in Vancouver or Los Angeles, North American cities where they used to dream about helping third world countries while they slept draped amongst cotton linens.

No. Today we’re going to highlight an individual who was born in the city of Herat, Afghanistan.

Someone who wasn’t a result of a Vancouverite's dream, but rather an Afghani woman who learned to dream all on her own:

Sakeni Yacoobi.

The people of Afghanistan should be applauded for the positive change that they wanted for themselves and deemed was within their reach, because God knows that they deserve it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hope & Strength Through Education

Below is an excerpt from a UNICEF report, showing truly how education can not only prepare children for a better life, but how it can unite villages, provinces and a nation as a whole.

"They had dreams of a better life for their children. More than two decades of war had ravaged their families and communities and left their educational system in ruins. Two generations of opportunity lost. Yet the people of Afghanistan never lost hope. Their own dreams thwarted, they never stopped believing that their children’s would one day be ignited.
Entire communities – both men and women – supported informal schools. Many clandestine schools also provided skills training and secular education for children. Teachers risked their lives to hold classes in homes across the country. This indomitable spirit and hunger for education is shaping Afghanistan’s future, and provides, perhaps, the strongest hope that its citizens can surmount the many challenges they still face.
Today, education is emerging in Afghanistan as a powerful tool for rebuilding the country. Since the end of 2001, the Afghan government has been working with local communities, non-governmental organizations and the international community. Together, they have repaired hundreds of school buildings, provided safe water and sanitation facilities to more than 1,000 others, supplied more than 8,500 tents to house temporary classrooms and airlifted thousands of tons of school supplies into the country. They have developed curricula and helped ensure that girls have access to education.
In March 2002, schools opened their doors for the first time in years. Three million children – one third of them girls – flooded the classrooms. With international support, the Ministry of Education is now focusing its efforts on improving the school environment so that even more girls will come to school."

You can read the full report here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Improving Food Security & Rural Development Through Education

Education is key to a bright future for all global citizens. A brilliant article posted on Eldis talks about how even the most basic forms of education can greatly impact a whole society.
A group is only as strong as its weakest member, and the global economy cannot improve unless those in the poorest regions, including Afghanistan & African countries are given a chance to live to their true potential.


Improving Food Security and Rural Development Through Relevant Basic Education
Authors: Tutui Nanok
Publisher: Research4Development, 2005

Many developing countries are severely challenged by a vicious cycle of food insecurity, poverty and under-education. The route out of this so-called poverty trap lies in multiple strategies for poverty reduction, whereby interconnected problems are tackled simultaneously. Promoting access to relevant basic education is a good place to start.

A study by the Catholic University of Leuven, in Belgium, in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Centre, in Kenya, aims to improve the effectiveness of development policies by identifying ways in which relevant basic education aids the achievement of food security (the availability of and access to sufficient food) and sustainable rural development. It also seeks to improve cooperation among the European Community, European Union and other development organisations.

The study examines basic education initiatives in rural areas that use agricultural or environmental experience to make teaching and learning more relevant, and the effect of this type of approach on sustainable rural development and food security. This involved a global literature review focusing on different policies, initiatives and analyses, plus fieldwork in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Mali.

Increased investment in education is critical for speeding up improvements in food security. Education in rural areas improves farmers’ ability to implement more advanced technologies and techniques for crop management. Education also improves rural residents’ ability to find more profitable off-farm employment, boosting household income. Key findings include:

• Relevant basic education aids rural development. Productivity is positively influenced by the quality and relevance of schooling.
• Relevant basic education helps teach life skills that are useful for poverty alleviation in rural areas.
• School curricula are often very demanding, centralised and rigid. Moreover, rural teachers are often inadequately prepared, trained, supervised and supported in their work.
• Teaching and learning support materials that are relevant to the local situation are frequently inadequate.
• Basic education in rural areas can be made more relevant to the local context with the use of agricultural and environmental experiences.
• If basic education is to be relevant and effective, the community in question has to be involved in programmes providing it.

In order to develop basic education geared towards rural development, governments and development partners need to undertake an integrated and multi-sectoral effort in the rural areas of developing countries. The study concludes that:

• In rural areas, basic education should focus on learners’ needs.
• School curricula should take into consideration rural children’s real life situations and should be relevant to local needs and conditions.
• Teachers should be supported with improved pre-service and in-service training.
• Schools should be provided with adequate teaching and learning materials.
• Improved links between schools and communities should be encouraged.
• There should be more effective monitoring of basic education in rural areas.

You can read the full report here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Domestic Abuse In Afghanistan

According to the UN, 87 percent of Afghan women are physically, verbally, or sexually abused in their marriages. This video describes women who, due to the abuse they face daily, as well as the alienation in their culture refusing to help them, resort to setting themselves on fire to commit suicide and end their suffering.

Women who are educated are proven to have more say in their marriage, more resources if the face abuse, and do not get married until later in life.
It is so crucial to educate women as the whole balance of life in Afghanistan relies on it.

Masiha Faiz, 36
Occupation: Defence Attorney for Medica Mondiale, a women's rights NGO

I work mostly on cases where women have been accused of moral crimes, like running away from home after being abused, or child custody cases where women have been abused and want to free their children from an abusive father.

Even though there are many of these cases, it is difficult for us to get access to the victims. The police and courts don't want us to defend these victims. They will hide the cases and try to send the women back without investigating. A woman's word isn't worth anything to them.

NGOs are the only people who defend most female victims, as the government-funded defence attorneys mainly service men. This has become accepted practice but it is a major problem.

Judges and police officials don't care about what happens to women and they don't follow the laws. The current system doesn't help women, it hurts them.
courtesy of Amnesty International

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"In Afghanistan, the sacrifice in the political game is women and children," female Afghan parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi said."


Souad Sbai, a lawmaker from the People of Freedom Party, holds a banner during a demonstration in Rome for Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, an Afghan journalist who was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to death for blasphemy. His crime was downloading material from the Internet on the role of women in Islamic societies.

Politics and the justice system in Afghanistan still fail to do right by the law for women. The administration of law is ineffective and corrupt in Afghanistan. Despite a 27% quota for women in Parliament, it is rumored that Hamid Karzai - Afghanistan's President, is trying to abolish this.

The few women who are given the opportunity to take part in public life as parliamentarians, in local governance, the media and public administration do so at their own risk. The Afghan government has done little to protect women in public life. Yet another woman provincial council member, Nida Khayani, was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt last month.
Recently, in a London conference, women were conspicuously missing and deliberately excluded from the London conference were the women of Afghanistan. Despite the Afghan government's refusal to include them in the delegation, a number of Afghan women made their own way to London to try to have their voices heard. After much pressure, one was allowed to address the conference for a couple of minutes. The message of the women was loud and clear: they were not prepared to see their rights sacrificed and did not support the plan to give positions of power to the Taliban. The Taliban have many differing aims, but one thing has remained consistent: their opposition to women's rights and equality.
- The Guardian UK

The Afghan government has a duty to involve women in all the implementation mechanisms of peace agreements and conflict resolution under UN Security Resolution 1325, which recognises the critical role of women in promoting peace and security and calls for increased representation of women in decision-making.

The "peace jirga" to be held later on this month by Karzai welcomes 1,200 Afghan people - of which, only 115 are women.

In order for reconciliation to happen in Afghanistan - The Education Effect Team believes that the women of Afghanistan need to be consulted, for they have suffered the most oppression in these years.

We can't let a gender apartheid happen again! Spread the word.

More at The Guardian by Anber Raz

-The Education Effect

Meryl Streep speaking about women's rights in Afghanistan

I've always been a passionate advocate of women's status, health and rights, so when I stumbled upon this video in my Social Justice class - I had an epiphany that someone has got to do something about the current state of the women in Afghanistan. In this modern day, the majority of girls there (especially in rural areas) do not have access to education and in some cases - basic healthcare. Only 18% of girls aged 15-24 are literate in Afghanistan (UNICEF). A mere 18%.

Currently, Canada is on a UN peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. We, as Canadian youth - have a duty to speak for the silenced.

Enjoy. Meryl Streep is a vision!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Fresh Start

Welcome to The Education Effect. This organization was started by three young women from across Canada who are brought together by the call of social justice and equality through education.
We are now embarking on an exciting journey to building our first school in Afghanistan. Our passion, determination and belief in the rights and freedoms of all to education will lead us on a path we're sure we could never imagine and cannot wait to get started.

So let's go!