Afghanistan is facing a growing number of cases of COVID-19, now exceeding 35,000 according to government figures, posing significant challenges in a country where people are already facing deeply rooted poverty, violent conflict, and an extremely fragile health system. Even as cases rise and lockdown measures are put into place, JRS continues to accompany children and youth displaced by war in the most remote regions of Afghanistan through innovative education models.
JRS reaches out to hundreds of students using social media platforms. Audio, video, documents, and resources are shared on social media to promote effective learning at home. In addition to receiving e-lessons, students join their teachers and classmates for bi-weekly online interactive sessions.
In many places where JRS serves in Afghanistan, like in the remote and mountainous regions of Bamiyan there is a lack of electricity and little access to TV networks. For students in these regions, JRS launched English language lesson broadcasts (from beginner to intermediate levels), on Herat-AVA radio station. During the 30-minute broadcasts, two JRS teachers run the English lesson in a dialogical format, providing time for students to call and seek clarifications via mobile phone. The radio show was so successful in Bamiyan, it has also been replicated in Herat.
“Teaching and learning EFL (English as a Foreign Language) through a local radio station is fun because it’s a learning experience for me and my colleagues. The accessibility of the Radio Learning Program by the vast number of students and the experiences shared by the students motivates me to give my best every time,” says Amiri one of the teachers giving lessons over the radio.
Teachers are also supported remotely. Teachers like Amiri can connect with Jesuit mentors in India to enhance their knowledge and competencies in English language and pedagogy, through regular online training support.
JRS also continues to teach skills and provide vocational training. In Shokofan village, Herat, JRS is providing a two-month electrical and wiring training for 20 IDP youth. The training has been adapted to maintain physical distancing norms, through theory and practical classes in small groups, so as to provide the trainees skills opportunities, while ensuring their safety.
“Students show a lot of interest despite the lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic. These motivated youth will definitely make best use of the opportunity and skills gained to generate income for their families.” – Abdul Wahab, Electricity and Wiring trainer