From darkness to light

Accelerated learning centres provide learning opportunities for out-of-school girls

By Ahmadshah Azizyar
Farzana, 17, attends accelerated learning center (ALC), at That-e-Joy Village, Dara Suf Bala District, Samangan Provinces
UNICEF Afghanistan

30 December 2018

That-e-Joy Village, Afghanistan, 30 December 2018 – Farzana, 17, was forced to leave school after completing Grade 3.  Due to harmful practices, social norms, and conflict, Farzana was not allowed to continue to go to school. 

“I used to see my school mates going to school, and I always wanted to join them,” recalls Farzana.  “I used to pray that I will be allowed to go back to school.”

To enable girls and young woman like Farzana to continue to learn, UNICEF established accelerated learning centres in  remote areas like That-e-Joy village in Samangan province.  Having been married at a young age, Farzana had no clue about life.  Yet, she was adamant in continuing her education.  She negotiated with her husband and managed to obtain his permission to allow her to enroll at the UNICEF-supported accelerated learning centre.

“I was happily surprised to see girls my age attending classes at the accelerated learning centre,” says Farzana.

According to UNICEF, there are 3.7 million children who are out of school, 60 per cent of them are girls.    The accelerated learning centres provide opportunities to girls to learn basic literacy and numeracy skills.  They also learn basic life skills, including communication, cooperation, and critical thinking, which help them in their daily lives.

Farzana, 17, attends accelerated learning center (ALC), at That-e-Joy Village, Dara Suf Bala District, Samangan Provinces
UNICEF Afghanistan

Accelerated learning centres transform girls’ lives

After five months of being enrolled at the centre, Farzana is able to read and write.  “It is so uplifting to know that now I can easily write my name, read some basic words,  and I am able to use a mobile phone,” says Farzana with a smile.  “The most encouraging thing, is that I learned a lot about the virtues of Islam, including righteousness, humility, kindness and respect, which delighted my husband.”

In Samangan province, UNICEF supports provincial and district education departments by establishing community based schools (CBS) and accelerated learning centers (ALC). To date, UNICEF has established 62 accelerated learning centers in 3 deprived districts of the province, reaching more than 1,500 most vulnerable girls aged 10 years and above.

“These centres enable girls who have been deprived from their right to education to learn,” says Sonia Sukdeo, Education Specialist, UNICEF Afghanistan.  “It is part of our comprehensive approach to reach out to every girl to ensure that she is back in school and learning.”

“I dream that one day I will be able to read and write easily in Dari, as well as Pashto,” says Farzana.  “It is then that I will be able to teach my own children, and help teach other young girls in my community.”