In Afghanistan, a Snapshot of Education’s Impact

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On a weekday afternoon, an energetic teacher runs 30 students—ages 7 and 8—through lessons on topics from sentence construction to counting. During more than 2 hours of nonstop activity, these second-graders are utterly transfixed.

The classroom, established by Catholic Relief Services with the support of the Ministry of Education, is located in a remote village in Afghanistan’s Ghor Province, one of the poorest regions of the country. An estimated 80% of adults there are illiterate, and the illiteracy rate is even higher for women. Most villagers are farmers who never attended school. Without the CRS class, their children too would be without an education. The nearest public school is 4 miles away—too far, and too dangerous, for young children to walk.

The villagers hope that education will provide a more secure and prosperous future for generations to come.

“Education is the backbone of society,” explains a village elder. “An educated person can change their life. They can improve their knowledge and change their community. And they can solve the problems that face us right now—like war and conflict in Afghanistan.”

He adds, “I am hearing from the community that this is a beautiful opportunity that CRS has provided us and we wish for it to continue.”

CRS has supported more than 23,000 students through community-based educational activities in Afghanistan. Our work is possible thanks to the financial support of private donors and the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom.


Instead of sending their children to work in the fields, parents in this village now send their children to class. Photo by Elie Gardner for CRS
“A teacher raises a student from earth to the sky,” says a teacher about the position she earned after scoring well on an aptitude test. Photo by Elie Gardner for CRS
“I prayed to God that one day my children would go to school and get an education. I wish them to be literate people—to be engineers or doctors and serve themselves in order to have a better life,” says a mother and school volunteer. Photo by Elie Gardner
“Educated children will improve our economy. They’ll contribute to resolving the challenges we face, and they will search for a different, better way of life,” says a community leader. Photo by Nikki Gamer/CRS
Students share what they learn to help their families. “I write words for my mother to learn, like the words for ‘water’ and ‘book.’ I’m also teaching my mother how to count and to read in Dari,” says one girl. Photo by Nikki Gamer/CRS
“Education is important to solve our challenges and to improve our knowledge of the world,” says a father of children in a CRS classroom. Photo by Nikki Gamer/CRS
“When an uneducated person goes to a city, it is like he is blind; he cannot see,” says one student’s father. Photo by Nikki Gamer/CRS
“I would like to raise these children to become good citizens one day. Despite their illiterate parents, I want them to be educated,” says a CRS-trained teacher in Afghanistan. Photo by Elie Gardner for CRS
Girls make up nearly 70% of the enrollment in community-based classes, compared with 17% in government schools. Photo by Nikki Gamer/CRS