Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Press Releases 2010

President Karzai Celebrates Literacy Day

September 28, 2010 | Kabul, Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry joined a host of international officials today to celebrate progress made toward literacy in Afghanistan.

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan joined with representatives of the United Nations, United States, and Germany at Amani High School in Kabul to celebrate Literacy Day and highlight progress made toward increasing literacy rates in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world.  More than 11 million Afghans over the age of 15 cannot read or write.  In rural areas, where three-fourths of all Afghans live, 90 percent of women and more than 60 percent of men are illiterate.

“Bringing the skills to read is one of the most important gifts we can bring to Afghans,” said H.E. Minister of Education Ghulam Farooq Wardak.  “Our work with the international community to fight illiteracy is one of the single most important causes around which all Afghans can unite.”

“The ability to read, write, and count is an indispensable tool to open doors, create opportunities, and is critically important for long-term development, peace and democracy,” said U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry at the ceremony.  “The United States is proud to provide continued support to the National Literacy Department of the Ministry of Education and stands firmly behind the Government and people of Afghanistan as you work to rebuild your country and celebrate National Literacy Day.”

The cornerstone of the literacy campaign in Afghanistan is the Learning for Community Empowerment Program (LCEP-2), a five-year USAID and Ministry of Education (MoE) joint program, designed to address Afghanistan’s high rate of illiteracy and low level of community development. 

The program provides reading and productive skills education to 250,000 illiterate youth and adults in rural and urban settings in 20 provinces of Afghanistan.  A group of international experts at the Ministry’s National Literacy Department is working closely with national Afghan project leaders to develop the systems for the program and roll them out to 20 target provinces. 

In collaboration with the MoE, the group has developed a set of integrated literacy and productive skills materials which include more than 400 hours of instruction and the training of an estimated 300 trainers, 40 productive skills assistants and 3,808 village facilitators on the ground to implement the program.

Additionally, 6,807 learning centers have been established in 1,751 communities of 79 districts with 152,572 participants attending.  The program has organized more than 71,665 vulnerable youth and adults successfully into 6,152 self-help savings groups in villages where, poverty, conflict and illiteracy are major obstacles to their development.
The United States is a major contributor of literacy education in Afghanistan, providing technical and financial support to MoE delivery of literacy and skills training and working in close collaboration with other international stakeholders to achieve national education goals. 

# # #