Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, “Our relationship with Afghanistan is a long-term commitment”; “As security improves our relationship grows … especially with economic and political development”.  Speaking of development and commitment; with funding from USAID, one of my biggest clients, Education Development Center(EDC) has been implementing education  programs in Afghanistan. In 2005 I had the opportunity to document those projects.

If  I’ve learned one thing while traveling all over the world and shooting for countless NGO’s it’s that education can make a country more self sufficient and secure. An educated populous is probably less vulnerable to exploitation by some charismatic, but tyrannical leader or political party. Education is, as the say; power.
 

In Afghanistan there is a huge need for education. According to EDC, “Many Afghans who grew up during decades of war and repressive rule are now in their twenties, struggling to find their footing in a dramatically altered and rapidly changing country. Deprived of the opportunity for schooling in their early years, many are unable to read. In rural areas, about 70 percent of heads of households cannot read or write.” Women are also at a great disadvantage when it comes to learning. Women in Afghanistan are more often than not denied any formal education at all. EDC has been working to change that.

 
EDC’s Literacy and Community Empowerment Program (LCEP) is a groundbreaking community development project that connects rural villages throughout Afghanistan with an integrated package of literacy, governance and economic empowerment opportunities. LCEP is the first step in a larger, more ambitious long-term initiative to create sustainable literacy and community development opportunities for Afghanistan’s rural population. Click here to see a slide show and learn more about what EDC is accomplishing.
We hear a lot of bad news from Afghanistan, so I thought I would point out something positive. And, oh, by the way;  if you were wondering about the photo of the bridge (below) in my previous post…that’s another EDC project. I guess you could say that EDC is building bridges, both literally and figuratively.

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