Spotlight on The Asia Foundation – Supporting Education for Afghans

As part of its mission to improve lives across the diverse regions of a dynamic and rapidly developing Asia, The Asia Foundation works hard to improve the quality of local education and expand access to educational opportunities in all areas where it operates. In Afghanistan, The Asia Foundation works closely with local NGO partners, as well as all levels of the formal education system, to strengthen all areas of Afghanistan’s education system, including student enrolment and achievement, teaching quality, curriculum development, and school infrastructure.

The educational programs supported by The Asia Foundation—all of which are carefully aligned with the strategies and priorities of Afghanistan’s ministries of Education and Higher Education—focus on boosting primary school literacy, improving teacher training, facilitating civil society and government agency participation in the educational sector, as well as developing employment-oriented educational initiatives. Read on to learn more about some of The Asia Foundation’s most recent work in the world of Afghan education.

Programs to enhance numeracy and literacy skills

school childrenBooks for Asia—Established nearly 15 years ago, the foundation’s Books for Asia program has delivered millions of books and educational materials to provincial schools, universities, public libraries, NGOs, and government ministries in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces. One of the Books for Asia program’s biggest achievements in Afghanistan has been the distribution of a special collection of traditional Afghan folktales to schools across the country. Published by Hoopee Books, the collection was written in English, Pashto, and Dari. Since 2012, more than 1.2 million of these books have been donated to nearly 600 schools.

Primary school programs—Children who learn literacy and numeracy skills at a young age are much more likely to go on to pursue higher education. This is the reason why The Asia Foundation supports a number of local organizations, such as the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University (ACKU) and the IT company Liwal, Ltd., in building a strong culture of reading for primary school children in Afghanistan. Through initiatives such as increased library access and the publication of easy-to-read books, these partners are working to make reading easy and fun for young Afghan students, as well as their parents and adult family members. Liwal, Ltd. is also developing an innovative new mobile app for primary school literacy in collaboration with The Asia Foundation. The app, which will initially be available to 2,000 Kabul children from grades one to three, will help them to read books in Dari and Pashto.

Libraries—The Afghanistan Center at Kabul University (ACKU), the only library in Afghanistan to house a comprehensive collection of research materials, has been visited by over 61,000 users since 2015. In addition to providing technical support and fiduciary oversight to ACKU, The Asia Foundation supports the Center’s Afghanistan Box Library Extension program (ABLE). Created in an effort to help provide remote communities with much-needed educational materials, ABLE creates new “box libraries” (which are basically conveniently located depositories of books) in isolated areas, and expands the collections of existing libraries. In the past year alone, 17 new box libraries have been created and more than 20,000 books and learning materials have been sent to libraries.

Programs for curriculum development

Given the significant percentage of students who do not pass the math and science sections of Afghanistan’s national public university entrance exam, known as the Kankor exam, it is clear that the math and science curriculum in Afghanistan’s public school system is in need of improvement. To this end, The Asia Foundation has formed a close partnership with the General Directorate of Science and Education Technology, the Ministry of Education department that oversees both curriculum development and teacher training.

Together with the Directorate, The Asia Foundation is supporting the training of 900 math and science teachers, as well as 65 lab technicians, in Badakhshan, Kandahar, and Khost. The goal is not only to create a more relevant and comprehensive curriculum, but to ensure that the teachers themselves are more comfortable with the material and thus better able to support their students. Up-to-date equipment can also make a big difference in students’ learning experience. The Asia Foundation has helped to distribute 300 pieces of laboratory equipment to 54 of those schools involved in the curriculum development program.

Programs for organizational capacity building

While Afghan-led programming makes the most sense for an effective Afghan school system, many educational organizations that would normally take the lead in this area lack the capacity, resources, or organizational governance to do so. To help address this discrepancy, The Asia Foundation conducts an organizational capacity development assessment—a participatory tool that provides a complete overview of an organization—for each of its local education partners in order to evaluate organizational stability and sustainability. When deficiencies or challenges are identified, the foundation provides training sessions to help the organization bridge the gap. Sessions can cover topics such as human resources, financial sustainability, strategic planning, and finance and administration. The overall goal is to help local organizations build their own effective governance structures and reduce dependence on funding from international donors.

 

Restoring Hope: How a Power Plant Can Boost the Future

Three decades of conflict have devastated the economy of Afghanistan. Marketplaces and infrastructure have crumbled, while employment opportunities have all but disappeared. The entire nation is struggling to rebuild.

In the aftermath of war, there is much to do. People need assistance finding safe, habitable places to live, not to mention jobs and a marketplace that offers food, clothing, and more. While outside nations have rushed to help, perhaps the largest (and most efficient) means of help must come from within. Few, however, have both the ability and the initiative to act. Fortunately, Dr. Ehsan Bayat is both able and motivated to aid the war-torn nation. For Dr. Bayat, this is more than just a terrible situation; it is an opportunity to act. Harnessing the resources of the Bayat Foundation, he strives to assist the most at-risk citizens of Afghanistan and bring hope to the nation.

The Bayat Foundation

The focus of the Bayat Foundation is to bring hope and healing to the neediest members of Afghanistan society. By providing for their basic necessities, the foundation can offer hope where there was none, and inspire a rising generation to build a brighter future for the nation. A consortium of donors has teamed up to find ways to meet the most elemental of needs within the country. They work primarily with women and children, those who face an uncertain future and would otherwise have little opportunity to improve their lives.

bayatfoundationlogoThousands of women benefit from the maternity care programs offered by the Bayat Foundation, which has constructed prenatal and postnatal care centers in eight provinces throughout the country. Women receive free pre-and post-natal care, as well as instruction in baby care. Thus, the mortality rate of women and children in Afghanistan has decreased, and the health of mothers and infants has dramatically improved.

Citizens have likewise benefited from the foundation’s well-water initiatives, which make clean water readily available for use in areas where there is no potable or running water. With the building of wells, clean water can be accessed for cooking, drinking, bathing, and other uses, improving health and preventing the spread of disease.

Family sponsorship programs support entire family groups, providing much-needed funds and supplies to cover necessities. As a result, children do not have to beg in the streets, so they have the opportunity to attend school. Additionally, families receive blankets, food, and clothing during the winter months, assistance that is particularly important in the most remote provinces.

The Bayat Foundation and Starkey Hearing Foundation Mission to the Dominican Republic

Original article can be seen at Afghan-Wireless.com 

Bringing Health, Healing and Hope to the neediest of our fellow Afghans, were the three powerful and heartfelt reasons which inspired my family and I to establish The Bayat Foundation in 2006. Last month, from April 18th to April 20th, The Bayat Foundation, in partnership with with our friends at The Starkey Hearing Foundation (www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org), was privileged to join a three day medical mission which brought Hope, Healing—and the gift of Hearing—to the people of the Dominican Republic.

In Afghanistan, both of our organizations have worked together, side by side, on two hearing care missions which have restored the hearing of 2,479 Afghans. I was determined that our contribution to this newest hearing care mission would demonstrate just how much we appreciated their work in Afghanistan—and our support of Starkey’s commitment to help people in need everywhere. So, my daughter Leah and I joined the group of Bayat Foundation volunteers who assisted the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s team of seasoned, strong and exceptional hearing health specialists.

Our hearing care mission took place in Santo Domingo and Santiago de los Caballeros, the two largest cities in the Dominican Republic. Our combined Bayat-Starkey hearing care team worked with unyielding determination to help every person who came to the mobile hearing care stations, seeking a cure for their deafness or hearing loss.

Every patient we worked with represented the beautiful and diverse history of the Dominican Republic, and embodied a range of ages—from one year to 115 (!) years old. Approximately 29% of the people we assisted had suffered hearing loss at birth, while over one-third of our patients didn’t know the reasons for their hearing loss.

Our combined Bayat-Starkey hearing care team was able to provide the gift of hearing to 1,200 people living in Santo Domingo and Santiago de los Caballeros. Leah and I felt happy—and humbled—that our efforts had helped so many people hear—many, for the first time in their lives.

Yet, despite the progress we were able to make, everyone involved with the hearing care mission realized that there are millions of people around the world who need the kind of exceptional hearing medical care that the Starkey Hearing Foundation provides—and the Bayat Foundation is honored to support. More than 360 million people throughout the world are affected by deafness or hearing loss. And this sad, staggering and sobering statistic includes thousands of our fellow Afghans.

In late 2016, The Bayat Foundation and the Starkey Hearing Foundation will join together and launch our third annual Afghanistan Hearing Care Mission. Last year, our Afghanistan Hearing Care Mission restored the hearing of 1,544 children and adults living in Kabul, Herat and Balkh Provinces. This year, The Bayat Foundation and the Starkey Hearing Foundation, working together, are focused on one goal: we are determined to provide Hearing—and Hope for a better life—to every person who seeks our assistance, here in Afghanistan, and around the world.

Until next time,

Ehsan

Dr. Ehsanollah Bayat

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
Founder and CEO, Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC)Founder and CEO, Ariana Television and Radio (ATN)
Founder, Bayat Foundation