October 18th, 2012

What is the Afghan School Project?

The Afghan School Project is a group of Canadian and Afghan volunteers working to provide funding and support to education in Afghanistan. Currently, our focus is on assisting the staff and students of the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies in Kandahar.

What is “KIMS”?

Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (KIMS) is a post-secondary school in residential Kandahar that provides students, primarily women, with the opportunity to access locally provided job-focused education, the Internet and internationally recognized post-secondary education.

The school’s programs provide students with the skills required to obtain employment that will further development and economic growth in Afghanistan and support themselves and their families, as well as allow students to use the Internet for independent learning.

How and why did you become involved in this project?

Several years ago, some of the Afghan School Project volunteers in Canada read an article in the Toronto Star entitled “Behind the Burqa”, which discussed the difficulties facing women’s education in Kandahar, and decided that we wanted to help. We contacted Ehsan, an experienced educator and the subject of the article, and discussed ways in which we could provide assistance. We chose to establish and fund a community school, as this offers education for women in a way that improves accessibility and security for students who previously had to ride buses or walk a great distance.

Why did you start the school in Kandahar and not Kabul, where it is safer?

The majority of aid and educational projects are concentrated in Kabul, likely due to its relative security. However, there is a dire lack of post-secondary education for women in the Kandahar region. We wanted to base the school in an area with significant need.

What sort of measures have you taken to keep students safe?

For obvious reasons, we cannot discuss the security arrangements for the school in detail. However, we have taken several measures to ensure that the staff and students of KIMS can learn in a safe and secure environment.

How do you spend money donated to the project and how do I know my donation won’t be misspent?

The funds donated to the Afghan School Project are sent directly to the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies in Afghanistan via Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, a volunteer not-for-profit organization that has been helping women in Afghanistan since 1996. All of the money is used to pay for the cost of operating the school – paying teachers’ salaries, rent for the school building, utilities, computers and other school supplies. Receipts are kept for all expenses, and all spending is overseen by both The Afghan School Project and Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.

I was directed to this page by an ad. How do I know my donation won’t just go towards advertising?

Our advertising is either provided free of charge by the web site host or is funded by donors who have asked that their donation be used to advertise the Afghan School Project. If you donate, we will assume that you wish for your donation to be put towards the operating costs of KIMS- if you want to help us advertise our work, please send an e-mail to [email protected] after making a donation.

What courses do you offer?

Currently, KIMS offers courses in English, business management, Information and Computer Technology (ICT) and health care. A small number of students are currently studying online courses through the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) at no cost. This group of students has already successfully completed several SAIT courses.

Why does the school need computers and the Internet?

Computers and Internet access are essential components of our community school. They allow us to offer a high-quality education in an area where paper textbooks are extremely expensive and difficult to obtain. Computers also allow us to quickly change course curriculum if necessary, in response to the changing needs of local employers. KIMS currently operates Kandahar’s only no-cost Internet facility for women.

How many students attend the school?

At this time, more than 1,500 students are registered for courses in Information and Computing Technology, health care, English and business management. This does not include the number of women who use the KIMS Internet facility, which varies from day to day.

How qualified are the teachers of the Institute?

Our instructors are experts in their fields and include; a medical doctor who is teaching the health care classes, an MBA graduate for the business courses, IT professionals for computing and English teachers with significant native language experience.

Will there be jobs for the female students once they graduate?

Thus far, several hundred students have received employment or promotions as a direct result of their training at KIMS. The school only started operations in early 2007, meaning that several times the monthly expenses of the school are now being paid to members of the Kandahar community as salary. This does not include the savings to the non-government organizations that employ many of our students, who are able to fill more of their positions with Afghans, instead of hiring expensive foreign nationals.

Billions of dollars are currently budgeted for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Organizations working in the area commonly seek applicants with English, Information Technology and business management skills. There is also a desperate need for trained health care professionals.

We chose our curriculum carefully, based upon Ehsan’s many years of educational experience in Afghanistan, and his awareness of graduated students’ employment prospects in Kandahar. We also track online job postings in Afghanistan to ensure that the education we provide is relevant in today’s job market. Our computing and Internet facilities allow our faculty to remain flexible, and adjust the curriculum to respond to a rapidly evolving job market.

Do women wear burkas in class?

No. Most of the female students wear burkas on the street to avoid threats and unwelcome comments; however, they generally remove them once inside the school. You can see this from the photos we have posted on this website.

How much of your funding actually goes to help the school?

All donations to the project are used to pay for the school’s rent and utilities, staff salaries and other basic supplies. We can do this because all ASP staff not located in Kandahar work on a volunteer basis.

Why should I donate to this project?

Although the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies currently provides education to hundreds of students, there are hundreds more who would like to join the school, and are currently on our waiting list due to a lack of funding. It costs less than $15 a month to provide a student with post-secondary education.

By donating, you can help us to offer valuable education to a larger number of students, expand our selection of courses, improve the facilities at KIMS and purchase additional computers. All of this will help further women’s rights in Afghanistan, improve the economic situation in Kandahar and help the Afghan people establish a responsible and independent government.

How do I donate to this project?

Please visit the “Donate” section of our website and follow the directions listed there. Thank you very much for your support!

I would prefer not to donate money. Are there others ways that I can help?

Absolutely, and we would greatly appreciate your help. You could help us by telling your friends about the Afghan School Project, or by letting your elected representative know about our work and by asking for their support. You could also write about the Afghan School Project on a blog, or ask a local newspaper to do a story about us. You could join our facebook group (“The Afghan School Project”), or post a comment expressing your support on this website.

I’m interested in donating my computer to this project. Would you be able to collect it and ship it to Afghanistan?

If the computer is a desktop PC, then we’re afraid the answer is no. We have investigated the cost of shipping computers to Afghanistan, and the cost exceeds the worth of most donated computers. If you have a laptop that is still in good condition, then please contact us to determine whether we can send it over.

Another option is to sell your computer, and donate the proceeds of the sale to the Afghan School Project. It is possible to buy a used desktop computer in Afghanistan for as little as $200, and a brand new one is only $500.

I live in Canada (or anywhere else in the world) and I am interested in volunteering with this project. How can I get involved?

If you would like to volunteer, please contact us at [email protected]. Volunteers can find additional online instructional material for our teachers and students, help us raise funds and apply for grants or help the project in other ways, depending on their interests. You might also consider joining our page on facebook, which can be found by searching for “The Afghan School Project”.

I want to stay up to date on what the Afghan School Project is doing. How do I do this?

If you already use a RSS feeder, you can find our RSS feed here. You can also subscribe to email updates below (we will e-mail you infrequently, and you can unsubscribe at any time).

I live in Afghanistan and I am interested in volunteering with KIMS. How can I get involved?

We are always looking for more teachers who are interested in volunteering or will accept a modest salary for their work with KIMS. Please contact us at [email protected]l.org for more information.