The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)'s education programme aims at equipping children and young people with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that help them interact effectively with the world while contributing to society. In 2003, AKF began implementing a range of interventions aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Afghan Government to deliver quality education, and at supporting and promoting educational access and quality learning opportunities for all children, particularly girls.
To date, these activities have reached more than 200,000 pupils (42 percent of them girls) and 6,000 teachers and educators. This represents 56 percent of the total school-age population in the Foundation's programme areas. It works in 28 districts in the remote provinces of Badakhshan, Bamyan, Baghlan and Parwan. The programme supports a school reform strategy that focusses on strengthening five interrelated components: 1) ongoing in-service teacher training and support; 2) school leadership and governance; 3) student participation; 4) government systems and institutions; and 5) parent and community engagement. Working directly with the local education authorities at both the provincial and district levels, AKF supports over 320 government schools and has established over 740 government-recognised community-based primary classrooms. The latter are basic classrooms supported by local communities in remote villages beyond the reach of government schools. These community classes provide primary education for pupils who are not able to attend government schools due to distance or the lack of proper roads and transport. Since 2003, 80 percent of formerly out-of-school children of the relevant age have gained access to primary education as a result of AKF’s support of community-based education and ongoing assistance to government schools. In addition, to help formerly out-of-school children adapt to their new classroom learning environments, AKES has provided over 10,370 students in different schools a supplementary education programme focussing on Dari, English, Math and Science. Overall, 94 percent of children from AKF-supported primary schools progress to secondary school. For girls, it is over 140 percent. This very high figure shows that the quality of education is improving, that access to school facilities is improving and that communities are taking a growing interest in education for their children. AKF helps children to stay in school longer by working to overcome the obstacles which prevent many children from continuing their education. Between 2009 and 2013, secondary school enrolment in these four provinces increased by almost 60,000 students – a 28 percent increase. Although AKF supported less than one-third of all the secondary schools, these schools were responsible for almost half of the increase. Girls are particularly likely to stop attending school because of constraints related to social custom or lack of transport. To overcome these obstacles, the Foundation provides assistance to repair school infrastructure and build toilets for girls; provides incentives and accelerated learning programmes for women teachers; provides transportation for girls and female teachers to secondary schools; and promotes a dialogue with community and religious leaders to create a better understanding of the importance of education. As a result, between 2009 and 2013, the number of female graduates in AKF-supported schools increased by more than ten-fold. AKF works to improve the quality of teaching and learning by providing in-service teacher training and individual, in-classroom mentoring of teachers. Teachers in schools supported by the Foundation receive training in improved teaching methods based on child-centred teaching. To date, the Foundation has provided training and support to over 6,000 teachers (38 percent female) and educators. Parent-Teacher-Student Associations are established in all AKF-supported schools in order to involve parents and the community more closely in their children's education. Such involvement is essential to ensure the sustainability of educational improvements. School Management Committees are also established to help improve the day-to-day functioning of AKF-supported schools. To date, a total of 517 Parent-Teacher-Student Associations, School-Student Associations and School Management Committees have been established and trained in government schools, community-based classes and pre-schools, ensuring community involvement in all schools supported by AKF. A lack of active support for schools by some communities is an ongoing problem in Afghanistan. Estimates based on data from field visits indicate that about half of communities are actively engaged in supporting and running their schools, and promoting school enrolment and attendance, as well as assisting in areas of child-protection, such as preventing early marriages. At the district and provincial levels, the Foundation has provided training and support to all school inspectors and supervisors in the 28 districts covered by the education programme, improving their ability to assist schools effectively. In addition, the Foundation has been working to raise faculty capacity and teaching quality at Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) and satellite TTCs. At the national level, AKF is engaged with the various directorates of the Ministry of Education, for policy dialogue and influence and capacity development. Efforts and participation in policy dialogue have led Government to recognise the community-based primary classrooms as alternative education provision and include these classes within the National Education Strategic Plan III (2015-2020).