NAC takes a holistic approach to education, working with hundreds of educational institutions from pre-primary to tertiary levels, to support educators, learners, and the development of schools and classrooms. All our initiatives promote inclusion and diversity in education; provide education in Dari, Pashto, Sign language, Turkmen, and Uzbek; and provide access to quality education for girls and boys – with and without disabilities – in mostly rural and hard-to-reach communities.

All NAC education activities aim to make rural communities able to provide children with the best education available and give adults opportunities to improve the lives of their families. In most of the rural areas where NAC works, children already have access to education to some extent. NAC therefore aims to help the rural communities improve the education opportunities for their children.

To make this happen, NAC gives training to the local teachers, helps the communities organise committees to better run their school and builds awareness of the importance of education. Many schools in the Afghan countryside lack regular maintenance or are much too small for the number of local children. NAC helps the communities upgrade and renovate schools and provide safe drinking water for students and teachers.

Due to poverty and conflict, whole generations of adults have missed out on education. Learning a new skill through vocational training gives an adult a new opportunity in life. Knowing how to sew clothes, fix cars or mobile phones allows the person to provide a better life for his family.

NAC also trains local Afghans to teach people from their community to read and write. But even rural Afghans who have had the opportunity to finish secondary education struggle to get into university because the education in the countryside is not comparable with that in the cities. Therefore, NAC provides specialised courses to prepare them for the standardised university entrance exam.

NAC’s education activities are a part of the Integrated Rural Development programme.

Improving education

By training teachers and helping the communities improve how the school is run, NAC enables the local people to provide their children with the best education available. NAC helps the teachers and parents of school children run and improve schools, helps teachers improve their classes and, not least, works tirelessly to promote the universal right to education for all children. This is sustainable development with a lasting effect.

In 2020 NAC provided capacity building for Ministry of Education (MoE) staff at the national, provincial and district levels, in line with the goals and objectives of the National Education Strategic Plan and UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 We helped hundreds of teachers upgrade their credentials to the Diploma level and learn innovative, inclusive, and child-centered teaching-learning methodologies and core competencies (language, math, and sciences).

During the year we also supported more than 165,000 children and youth in 228 government and community schools in Badakhshan, Faryab, Ghazni, and Kabul, and 400 children in 43 formal kindergartens and women-owned playgroups in rural and hard-to-reach communities in eight provinces.

Better teaching

Training a teacher transforms the education of the school children he teaches, for as long as that teacher continues his work. Few approaches have a bigger effect for sustainable, quality education, based on the children’s needs.

Many school teachers in rural Afghanistan have not had the chance to take specialised teacher education. When offered to enrol in NAC’s upgrading and reorientation courses, teachers therefore eagerly join. NAC conducts subject knowledge training courses on science, mathematics and language for teachers in Badakhshan, Faryab and Ghazni. Teachers also receive training in inclusive education and pedagogic lessons on how to plan their teaching, use local examples as well as child-centered and interactive methods.

Parent-teacher associations

To make the local population able to maintain and run their school, NAC strengthens the committees where both parents and teachers are included. These committees receive training in every aspect of keeping the school running, from the maintenance of the school building to bookkeeping. When they feel included in this way, the attitude of the community becomes much more positive, and the running of the school becomes their project. In addition to the parent-teacher associations, NAC also trains the school principals and clerks on how best to run the school. The training for these staff members includes management principles and human resources.

NAC pilot: Transforming teacher education

Whole groups of Afghan children are systematically excluded from education. One of the keys to changing this lies in how we educate teachers. This NAC innovation project equips teacher educators from around the country with expert knowledge on inclusive education.
Almost half of all school-aged children in Afghanistan are either not enrolled in school or they don‘t attend school every day. Whole groups of Afghan children are systematically excluded from education. Increasing the reach of education and the number of schools and teachers, is not enough; minds, attitudes and methods must be changed.

Reforming teacher education

In 2014, NAC selected 12 candidates for the master‘s degree programme and 7 additional candidates for graduate courses in inclusive education. One key criteria for the selection was that they must be in a position to introduce new and innovative ideas in the institution they represent.
Seven of the candidates are heads or lecturers at teacher training centres in Badakhshan, Balkh, Faryab, Jaghori (Ghazni province) and Kabul. Two are lecturers at the Kabul Education University. Half of the group are women. One of the candidates has a disability herself and is using Braille as a medium for reading and writing, one is a young mother who brought her toddler with her to Indonesia, and one was pregnant, so the programme is not only promoting but also practicing inclusion.

Before leaving for Indonesia, the candidates completed a pre-semester course in Kabul, covering an introduction to inclusive education, rights-based approaches to education, participatory research approaches and English lessons. The first semester started in Bandung, Indonesia in January 2015, followed by a second and third semester in Kabul. For their theses, the candidates will do research in their home provinces. The candidates are scheduled to graduate in 2016.

Towards a more inclusive education system

The Afghan Ministry for Education has been working to make the education system more inclusive since 2008. In 2014, NAC initiated an innovative project, based on a trilateral cooperation between Afghanistan, Indonesia and Norway. In short: Afghan teacher educators and activists will do a joint masters degree at the Indonesian University of Education and Kabul Education University. Norwegian and international experts will assist the universities develop new curricula and teaching materials.
The programme is sponsored by the Norwegian Government, through the Royal Embassy in Jakarta, and planned and implemented by NAC.