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Vocational Training Centre for Afghan Women

Organization for Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities


Annual Report 2017

General Information

Project Title: Vocational Training Centre for Women
Project Location: Da Araban Gharga Afshar District, Kabul
Donor: SAWA-Australia (SA) and other supporters
Project Title: VTC (Literary Section)
Beneficiaries:280 women and young girls
Allocated Budget for 2017: US$42,437
Allocation Period: January 2017 until December 2017
Reporting Date: February 2018

A year of growth for OPAWC

OPAWC has made major gains and improvements in 2017, adding new educational programs for its students. We want to thank SAWA-Australia (SA), and share with you our successes and our visions for 2018 and beyond.

Introduction

The Vocational Training Center for Women in Kabul funded by SAWA-Australia (SA) aims to provide resources to Afghan women and girls who have been denied public education for a variety of reasons, notably wars and discrimination, and to help them to earn a living on their own. In addition to providing a literacy program, this project also tries to include a full slate of income-generating skills such as learning to make handicrafts. This program started in 2007 with an establishment of a center in Kabul that served hundreds of young girls and women throughout these years.

The overall investment of this project is based on the understanding that a secure, well-rounded literacy education augmented by the earning skills will create a foundation from which these girls who otherwise would be lost to the statistical tragedy of Afghanistan’s girls can now develop into productive and healthy citizens.

Project description

The centerpiece of this project was to establish the Vocational Training Center (VTC) serving Afghan girls and women who couldn’t attend public schools and promote their skills to earn a living for their families. The general goal for this year was to streamline new and previous programs at the VTC, evaluate their effectiveness, begin outreach into the community and abroad through publications and media coverage, host events at the VTC open to the public, and create a partnership with other organizations so there is a sense of free exchange of experience and resources to create a vibrant learning community.

The facility had been fully outfitted and staffed with all the amenities of a vocational center. The VTC continued operations from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm five days a week, including a full slate of classes.

The VTC continuously served 220 girls from the nearby neighborhood, including 140 girls and 80 women. On average every student spent 20 hours per week actively involved in VTC classes.

The Literacy Program

This program as per instruction of the Literacy Department of the Ministry of Education is for 9months, comprised of 3 semesters: beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. The curriculum includes Dari or Pashto languages, mathematics and social studies. By the end of the program,a student can read and write, do basic calculations in mathematics and completed basics of social studies. In 2017, nearly 200 students were enrolled in literacy classes of whom 180 graduated by end of the year.

The Handicraft Program

The VTC offers three classes in two sections of the handicraft program:

1. Tailoring (Dressmaking):

The VTC is equipped with sewing machines and the girls learn how to make traditional Afghan dresses for women and children including fitting, altering and cutting. The labor rate for tailoring of women’s dresses is around AFN 500 ($8) in Kabul, and it requires an initial investment of $80 to buy a sewing machine and set-up a small tailoring shop at home. Most of the graduates are now making a living out of the tailoring at home. 90 were in tailoring classes in 2017 and 85 graduated by the end of 2017.

2. Embroidery:

40 students are enrolled in embroidery classes that learn fine needle-works. This type of embroidery produces quality handicraft bags, purses, shirts which are quite expensive.

English classes

There were 40 students in the center who were enrolled English classes, and they have been learning the very basics of the English language. The books used were: Let’s go one, Let’s go two, Level one, Level two and so on.

Computer education

For the young girls the computers are one of the favorite aspects of the VTC. Any time available they rush to their stations to learn more about using computers and the Internet. Every girl receives specific instruction in computer technology. The Center has one computer lab equipped with a total of 12 computers and workstations.

Key staff

1. VTC Head or Principal: Ms. Adela is the Principal of VTC for more than 10 years. She overlooks the entire operations of the Center, prepare study plans for the teachers and is the main public relations person that negotiate all matters related to the Center with the government departments and the neighboring community. She also teaches literacy classes.

2. Literacy Teachers (2): There are two literacy teachers trained by Department of Literacy of Ministry of Education of Afghanistan. They are now well-experienced in their field.

3. Handicraft Instructors (2): Ms. Sharifa and Ms Basira are the instructors for embroidery and tailoring and they have been working in VTC since 2007. Their handicraft works have been exhibited several times in Kabul and Italy.

Graduation Ceremony

OPAWC organized a graduation ceremony at the Vocational Training Center on 23rd January 2017 for 180 women who received graduation certificates from Literacy Program and Handicraft Program. This was the graduation ceremony for 2016, which was delayed because of delays in decisions of the Ministry of Education. Over 300 guests attended this ceremony including high ranking government officials from Literacy Department and Police Department (Afshar district), foreign dignitaries and families of the students. The students had amazing performances with speeches, music and drama. A more detailed report was already included in the Annual Report, 2016.

a graduation preformance    International Teacher's Day

Left: a scene from the graduation ceremony, right: International Teacher's Day

Celebration of International Teacher’s Day

The VTC celebrated International Teacher Day on October 5, 2017 to pay respect to all teachers who had worked hard during this period. The students have cooked afghan dishes, cakes and small gifts presented to their teachers, and OPAWC administration also encouraged the teachers with appreciation award. This kind of events bring teachers closer to students which is the key to their succes.

Workshop on Violence Against Women

OPAWC in collaboration with HAWCA (Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan) held two workshops on Violence Against Women, involving staff and elder women. Speakers and trainers from HAWCA addressed key issues concerning women including various kinds of violence against women in Afghan society, forced marriages, honor-killing and world-wide efforts to eliminate violence against women.

Independence Day

Afghanistan’s Independence Day is on August 19th. It marks the day when Afghanistan won the war against the British in 1919. OPAWC celebrate this day every year to educate girls and women about their history and also give them a sense of patriotism. The girls recited poems and performed drama and some of the talented students received prizes. Shazia Malikzada, the new Executive Director of OPAWC, gave a speech about the history of Afghanistan’s independence.

independence day

Public Outreach

  • Public Events: Government officials, journalists, professors and administrators from educational institutions, representatives from non-profit organizations, communities from VTC neighborhood and families of students all attended public events hosted at the VTC.
  • Journalists: Journalists from local and international media visited and reported upon the VTC. This included BBC and TOLO TV.
  • Publication: OPAWC published a brochure highlighting the VTC and all its programs, to be distributed to visitors.

Project results

Aside from the obvious benefits of literacy, handicraft skills, English and computer education, the girls are engaged in a very professional, rigorous schedule, developing discipline in their studies, good work habits and attitude toward their studies.

180 students graduated which means these girls have entered into a new world; they can read and write and are empowered with skills, which means that they are no longer weak entities dependent on others.

Challenges and lesson slearned

The biggest challenge this year was establishing a fastidious approach to budget accounting among all staff involved in the operation of the VTC. Moving from an outmoded bookkeeping system to a state of the art system expected by our benefactors took some training and diligence. Record keeping, accounting, receipts, price quotes, signatures, salaries, bills are handled by a number of staff and continuity was the biggest challenge to establish over the year.

Through determined efforts on the part of management and accountants OPAWC can safely say it has established a system whereby these initial difficulties are resolved, and all staff are on board.

Performance Monitoring Framekwork

One key factor to measuring the girls’ progress was each girl’s standing in her community and family, comparing her life before and after she graduated from the VTC. What changes did she bring to her family in terms of earning and social behavior? Most of these girls and women now lead a completely different life.

Other factors to monitor are the student’s confidence and willingness to apply themselves that comes with the character building benefits of income-generating skills.

Staff involvement in monitoring is two-fold, including regular bi-weekly staff meetings/trainings and unscheduled observations of classroom activities by our Principal. Monitoring of financial activities is the responsibility of the OPAWC Executive Director.

Monitoring results:

  • Student performance in VTC: Instructors report excellent performance among their students, with zero failure and great marks on attentiveness and enthusiasm.
  • Student presentations: public performances of speeches, drama and poem recital have impressed audiences throughout the community and neighborhood.
  • Unscheduled observations of classes by Executive Director: VTC’s first round of unscheduled observations has just been completed.
  • Clearly defined goals for student achievement in each class, before and after evaluation: Students received quizzes and exams in all their literacy programs just as they do in school. All instructors have maintained targets for each quarter, and students are expected to achieve these targets.