16 May, 2008 – Grant from Unitarian Universalist Service Committee for Teacher Training for Human Rights in Afghanistan

What is the grant for?

The Cambridge-based chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) recently awarded Barakat with a $10,000 grant to run a program in Afghanistan for teacher training in human rights, under the program category of ‘defending civil liberties and access to democratic processes.’ The UUSC, the service and development arm of the Unitarian Universalist Church, is committed to advancing human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with organizations who are working in the field to realize their vision of a world free from oppression and injustice.

Why provide training on human rights to teachers?

The vital importance of this issue cannot be underestimated, for Afghanistan is a fledgling democracy struggling to educate its people about the processes and beliefs that constitute an informed citizenry. The role that teachers play in this process is quite simply irreplaceable and unique. Knowledge should ideally precede action, and providing knowledge is in itself a form of action. Teachers are one of the most effective means of dissemination of knowledge, but to do so they must be trained and prepared.

What is the reach of the Project?

The Project aims to educate 44 female and male teachers working for Barakat Afghanistan and 40 teachers working in schools that are wholly funded and managed by the Ministry of Education (Waziriat-e-Mahroof) of Afghanistan about human rights as enshrined in their Constitution, with a special emphasis on women’s rights. It will demonstrate the link between the current state of women’s rights and the rights and protections guaranteed to them by law. It seeks to contribute towards the creation of a society in which men and women think of themselves as equal and treat each other accordingly.

Is it a good way of disseminating information on human rights?

Barakat has been putting special emphasis on the education of women, through its formal schools for boys and girls as well as through the Literacy Courses, which are only for girls and women.

Education in established educational institutions is also possibly the most delicate and careful way of handling this topic, which would otherwise be met with strong resistance from the male members of the community. Teaching both male and female teachers about human rights and then moving on to the topic of women’s rights, keeping within the broad overarching framework established, is a sensible and safe way of introducing human rights education in Afghanistan.