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Women in Afghanistan receive free literacy, IT lessons

by Alex Martin

Second in a series

A Kyoto-based nongovernmental organization has been using proceeds from The Japan Times Readers’ Fund to help women in Afghanistan improve their literacy through free classes and information technology training sessions, skills the NGO says are necessary in bettering their social status.

This year, ¥175,227 from The Japan Times charity fund has been handed to the Nippon International Cooperation for Community Development (NICCO), which offers women in Herat Province, Afghanistan, free classes in reading and writing in Dari, as well as classes on IT skills.

Yasutaka Ueda of NICCO said 45 women received introductory courses in Dari between January and November, and 59 students received introductory computer lessons.

According to NICCO, a student taking IT lessons said she has been waiting for such an opportunity because PC skills are necessary to get a steady job.

Ueda said that while the project encountered difficulties due to an unstable electricity supply, they were able to complete all planned courses in the designated period.

NICCO also improved the services provided in a local library, including installing two computers connected to the Internet and bringing in more books.

Ueda said NICCO, in collaboration with local NGOs, has also been preparing to offer AIDS prevention seminars.

During the Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, women were banned from receiving any education, and according to Afghanistan’s National Risk and Vulnerability Report 2007-2008, the estimated national adult literacy rate for women was 12 percent.

Ueda said they plan to continue sponsoring the courses with the help of local NGOs. The organization was initially formed to support Cambodian refugees in 1979 and was incorporated in 1993.

Donations can be made via PayPal, bank transfer or check. From your PayPal account send money as a gift to hr@japantimes.co.jp. For bank transfers, send to: Shinbashi branch of Mizuho Bank, “futsu koza” 1393499 (account name is: Japan Times Dokusha no Nanmin Enjo Kikin). Checks should be made out to The Japan Times Readers’ Charity Fund, c/o The Japan Times head office (4-5-4 Shibaura, Minato Ward, Tokyo, 108-8071). For more information, call (03) 3453-5312.