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NEWS | Jan. 28, 2013

Literacy program taking off in Qara Bagh district

By Staff Sgt. Jerry Griffis , Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan — As the Afghan Local Police (ALP) entered the village of Shagowlay, children from all over the village ran to greet them. The smiles from the children were returned by smiles from the ALP.

Two black duffel bags dropped to the ground and the children surrounded the ALP with anticipation. One ALP member opened the bags as another tried to get the children to settle down. This was a day when the children would be given a chance their parents never had – to learn to read and write.

The bags the ALP were carrying that day contained books that the children would soon take back to their homes and begin a radio literacy program.

“The last three decades have been very bad for the people in Afghanistan, especially in this area,” said Mohammed Azam, the Qara Bagh ALP commander. “There are so many illiterate people, so this is a great step in that they are getting educated.”

The program is designed to teach the residents of Qara Bagh district basic reading and writing in Pashto. The program relies on hand-crank radios and lesson books that are handed out to local residents. The lessons are broadcast from a radio tower and received on the hand-crank radios. Residents can follow along with the lesson books using included modules as a guide.

Afghan National Security Forces, including the Afghan Local Police, distribute the radios and lesson books to the local population in Qara Bagh district.

“As soon as the ALP spread the message that the radio had begun broadcasting and that there were radio literacy programs for the children, everyone was very happy,” said Azam.

The program will broadcast reading lessons throughout the district in the mornings and evenings. One lesson is played per week.

Each lesson is approximately 10 minutes and there are 46 lessons throughout the program. The program takes 10-15 weeks to complete.

“Having a pen in their [the children’s] hands is better than a rifle or gun,” said Azam. “It will improve their generation. Our next generation will be educated. They will have the opportunity to be doctors, teachers, or anything they want.”

Improvement of the literacy rate will contribute to increased security throughout the district.

ALP complement counterinsurgency efforts by assisting and supporting rural areas with limited Afghan National Security Forces presence, in order to enable conditions for improved security, governance, and development.