It’s Back to School … in Afghanistan,

thanks to a new Canadian – UK Partnership

PRESS RELEASE September 16, 2013

The Canada-based charity, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) has been given an opportunity to expand a unique literacy program thanks to generous new funding support from the Linda Norgrove Foundation (LNF), of Scotland, U.K.

CW4WAfghan Executive Director Janice Eisenhauer is encouraged by this expanding partnership between the two like-minded charities. “We share the same passion, commitment and goals towards universal human rights in Afghanistan,“ says Eisenhauer.

John and Lorna Norgrove, who live on the remote Isle of Lewis off the west coast of Scotland, started the Linda Norgrove Foundation following the death of their daughter Linda during a kidnap rescue attempt in Afghanistan in 2010. Earlier this year, the LNF successfully applied for funding from the United States International Development Agency (USAID) and was granted $625,000 over two years, to fund a network of community libraries and literacy classes for women and girls in 16 communities of six provinces in Afghanistan.

John Norgrove welcomed the news, saying, “We are a very small charity largely run by volunteers and do not have the capacity to run a project of this size. The opportunity to work with an established charity like CW4WAfghan with over 15 years of experience operating in Afghanistan meant we could apply for this substantial support from USAID.”

The Norgroves are currently visiting Canada and will attend the CW4WAfghan annual symposium in Victoria, BC Oct 4-5, 2013.

Literacy in Afghanistan is among the lowest in the world. It is estimated that only 20% of women are literate and the figure is much lower in rural areas. Recent research from UNICEF Afghanistan (2010/11) suggests that only a third of women educated to primary school level retain their literacy skills because of a lack of access to written materials. Regular use of libraries in the community and local home-based literacy classes will help address these challenges.

The project, called Afghanistan Lowalee! / Afghanistan Reads! (AR!) will reach at least 840 female literacy students, and over 11,000 library users, mainly in rural communities. AR! will also build the capacity of Afghan organizations involved in library and literacy services, providing training in topics such as literacy pedagogy and basic librarianship.

“This project will change lives,” said Eisenhauer. “Exercising one’s right to read is empowering Afghan women and girls everyday in their classrooms. Improving the literacy rate is fundamental to the future of Afghanistan, a country that has seen so much turmoil and tragedy over the years. It also has a great impact for all of us in Canada, the UK and the USA, as we seek new ways to be more effective as global citizens.”

About the Project
Afghanistan Lowalee! / Afghanistan Reads! (AR!) is a community literacy project designed to address low literacy rates among women and girls who have not been able to access public schooling. AR! focuses on female literacy using methods beyond traditional literacy teaching, including an emphasis on book reading, recognizing that literacy skills will be sustained when people are able to access and enjoy reading material. The literacy classes integrate life skills, such as content on hygiene, health and nutrition. The project will also support several Afghan partner organizations to build their capacity to provide high quality library and literacy services. CW4WAfghan establishes literacy classes in communities where there is strong community support for them, which is essential for the long-term success of the libraries, which in most cases remain in the communities after the literacy classes conclude. CW4WAfghan is partnering with several Afghan organizations to implement the program in 16 communities across six provinces.

About Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan)
Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan is a member-based organisation founded in 1996, with thirteen volunteer chapters across Canada. It is a non-religious, non-political, federally registered charity in Canada. Volunteers work together to advance education and educational opportunities for Afghan women and their families and to educate Canadians about human rights in Afghanistan. Through their network in Canada, CW4WAfghan members believe that individuals, as global citizens, working in solidarity and with integrity of purpose and action, can affect positive change in the world through education and the promotion of social justice and human rights.

About the Linda Norgrove Foundation  
The Linda Norgrove Foundation was established in Scotland by John and Lorna Norgrove in memory of their daughter Linda who worked as an aid worker.  Linda was kidnapped and died in a failed rescue attempt by US forces in October 2010. The Foundation aims to support women and children affected by the war in Afghanistan.