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UN agencies and aid groups help Afghanistan try to boost its low literacy rates

UN agencies and aid groups help Afghanistan try to boost its low literacy rates

Aiming to lift Afghanistan's perilously low literacy rates, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have begun a series of programmes with the country's government ministries to build or renovate hundreds of schools, train teachers and instruct thousands of illiterate adults.

About 43 per cent of adult Afghan men and just 14 per cent of adult women are literate, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesperson Ariane Quentier told reporters today in the capital Kabul.

She said the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) have helped the Afghan Ministry of Education construct or rebuild 193 primary schools since last year.

In Saripul province in the northwest, NGOs and the Education Ministry last month started a four-year literacy course where 300 teachers will give lessons to 9,000 adults across many of the province's villages. A separate literacy course that ultimately aims to teach 1,500 women is underway in neighbouring Bamiyan province.

Teacher-training courses are also taking place in Panjao district, with the programme to be expanded into at least four other districts, Ms. Quentier said.

Meanwhile, Cherif Bassiouni, the Independent Expert on Human Rights in Afghanistan, is currently in the country on a week-long mission to assess the situation - his first since August last year.

Mr. Bassiouni is scheduled to take a field mission to Mazar-i-Sharif, as well as meet UN officials, government officials and representatives of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) during his visit.