Police supported by literacy project
LOGAR - Born and raised in Afghanistan’s central province of Logar, Sgt. Qadeer joined the Afghan police some three years ago. At the time, he was unable to read or write, as were nearly one-third of the country’s 147,000 police officers. That has changed, thanks to a United Nations-backed literacy programme.
Following attendance in the programme, Sgt. Qadeer can write names and read the various signs around Kabul. He is one of the many police offers who have befitted from taking literacy classes organized by the Literacy for Empowering Afghan Police (LEAP) programme of the UN Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO).
“I attend the class every day from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.,” he says. “We are trying hard to solve our problems and the problems of our fellow citizens.”
The UNESCO-backed project, funded by Japan, was set up to address the large number of illiterate Afghan National Police (ANP) personnel. According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Sediq Sediqqi, some 30 per cent of ANP personnel are illiterate; this figure climbs to 70 per cent if partially literate police officers are included.
The LEAP project is designed to provide intensive literacy training to police officers to sustain and advance their literacy skills, with the ultimate goal of improving their livelihoods and contributing to more effective police work.
The LEAP project started in September 2011, with the first phase concluding in November 2013. During the first phase, the project team worked with 500 facilitators in 19 provinces and a fully-fledged Ministry of Interior literacy unit that guided the training in the provinces. The second phase, which started in November 2013, involves training some 10,000 illiterate police through June 2015.
“We trained the police volunteer teachers on lesson preparation, classroom management, con-ducting group work and delivering lectures,” said one of the trainers, Mohammad Tahir.
UNESCO’s training programme is in line with the Ministry of Education’s literacy curriculum and teaching and learning projects. To support the work of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Interior, the UN agency is printing textbooks and providing stationery for 10,000 illiterate police personnel, as well as 500 kits for police literacy volunteer facilitators.
“Our police officers are eager to learn; even at the level of police check-posts we have literacy classes and our police are learning,” says Maj. Mohammad Asif, who is in charge of education and training for a police brigade located in Kabul. The officer added that with the literacy training, he expects the officers to be able to perform their work more effectively in line with their regulations.
To supplement this Afghanistan-wide literacy work, UNESCO publishes thousands of newsletters and magazines each quarter on topics such as protection, justice, human trafficking, riot control and criminal investigations. The publications also contain sports pages and jokes, enticing readers with entertaining content so they continue refining their skills.