Afghan-Canadian Community Center opens new opportunities to women in Kandahar

Center offers valuable education, Internet access to the women of Afghanistan

OTTAWA, ON (May 3, 2007) – In conjunction with the Canadian International Learning Foundation (CILF) and and Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan), the Afghan School Project, a joint program between Afghan educators and Canadian volunteers, has opened the doors of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC), offering both a vocational school for women and a safe place for women to access the Internet in Kandahar.

Located in residential Kandahar, Afghanistan, the ACCC brings the school to the students and promotes safe, accessible education for women trying to build a better future for themselves and their community. The ACCC is highly efficient, boasting a cost-per-student of less than CAN$20 per month.

The ACCC offers courses for female students, including classes in business management, Information and Computing Technology (ICT), English and health care. Along with a dedicated team of expert instructors, including computer and business professionals and a medical doctor, the students’ education is aided by Internet-enabled computers and the ongoing support of Canadian volunteers.

In early January 2007, the ACCC opened the Women’s Internet Room and became the first facility in Kandahar to offer women access to the Internet at no cost. Internet access provides women with the opportunity to research information, and provides them with the opportunity to use e-mail and instant messaging software as an inexpensive means of communicating with family and friends.

Already, the ACCC’s classes have grown to over one hundred students. This is an impressive achievement, given that the literacy rate for women in Afghanistan is only 14% (according to a UNICEF report from 2006). Although more than 5 million students have returned to school in Afghanistan, 45 to 50% of students still lack access to basic education.

Through the school’s Internet forum, students can also ask questions, access tutorials and browse dozens of job postings for positions related to their training. Students also use the forum to publish essays on development, women’s rights and a variety of other subjects.

In the months to come, many students will have access to the online courses of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), which has generously agreed to provide access to their courses at no cost. SAIT is a Calgary-based vocational school with an internationally-recognized curriculum, including courses in business, computing and health care.

With billions of dollars worth of international aid devoted to the development of Afghanistan, the technological, administrative and linguistic skills provided by the ACCC will be in high demand by development agencies in southern Afghanistan.

In the words of Suhila, one of the ACCC’s students, “The future looks bright, and with solid educational opportunities, the women of Afghanistan will lead the way forward.”

About CILF

The Canadian International Learning Foundation (CILF) is a non-profit, Ottawa-based organization that offers valuable learning opportunities and vocational training for students in need around the world. Our goal is to provide at-risk populations with the skills required to emerge from conflict and poverty by partnering with experienced educators in developing countries to offer low-cost, effective education and employment-oriented training.

About CW4WAfghan

CW4WAfghan is a volunteer not-for-profit organization founded in 1996 with 14 chapters and affiliated groups across Canada. The goals of CW4WAfghan are to raise funds for health and education programs for women and girls in Afghanistan, and to raise awareness in Canada of the need to secure and protect human rights for Afghan women. The Afghan School Project is pleased to partner with CW4WAfghan and their sponsors, Rights & Democracy. Through this partnership, donations of CAN$100 or more are eligible for tax receipts for the Afghan School Project.

About the Afghan School Project

For further information regarding the Afghan School Project and the ACCC, please visit our website at www.theafghanschool.org.

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