Sahar Helps Meet Heavy Demand for Computer Training
Today, Sahar operates computer centers in several of our schools in urban areas, serving 1,500 girls each year. These students are so enthusiastic about learning computer skills that we can’t expand the program fast enough to keep up with demand. The Ministry of Education requested that Sahar and our implementing partner, Afghanistan American Friendship Foundation, operate the centers on a year-round basis. We now offer four 12-week sessions year-round.
These programs are currently available to 5th, 6th, 11th and 12th grade girls at each school. The younger of these students are old enough to have learned to read at a basic level, to speak and write some English and to start thinking about the future. Learning computer and Internet skills exposes students to new ideas, cultures and ways of life. The 11th and 12th grade girls who participate in the program are in need of technical skills in order to continue on to higher education or to find jobs. We’ve maintained an 80 percent graduation rate since the inception.
Students must apply to the Computer Literacy Program through their school principal, with input from the Afghanistan American Friendship Foundation, and are chosen based on strict criteria, such as a 90 percent attendance record and good English skills. Participants must also agree to tutor younger students in the use of computers. Over the course of the program, students receive 60 hours of instruction. At the end of the session, students complete a test to show their mastery of the knowledge and skills and receive a certificate of proficiency when they pass.
The program’s model transitions oversight and implementation to the school and the Ministry of Education after a period of time, can be expanded within a school and used as a model in all provincial schools, ensuring long-term stability. Training Afghan students in this modern technology not only offers them much-needed jobs skills, but enhances their educations by encouraging creative thinking and broadening students’ perspectives and worldviews.
Sahar is currently expanding our computer programs to include a pilot coding project for outstanding graduates of our computer centers. The girls will learn basic computer coding concepts, design a project and learn about employment opportunities for girls in technology.