This International Literacy Day, join us and #ReadForAfghanistan to show your support for vulnerable communities fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Check our our recommendations for books both by Afghan authors and about Afghanistan!

Established by the United Nations over 50 years ago, International Literacy Day is marked each year on 8th September to promote literacy as a human right, an essential skill, and a tool for empowering individuals and their communities.

The life-changing power of literacy

Being able to read is a skill that many of us take for granted. It is something we use every day from a young age - it is a skill you're using right now. But today, literacy rates show that just 43% of adults in Afghanistan have the ability to read and write.

For millions of people in Afghanistan, not being able to read and write drastically impacts the quality of their lives. It leaves many parents unable to help their children with their homework, or struggling to understand medicine bottles or food labels, and makes it harder for people to get jobs. This diminished opportunity serves to trap families in cyclical poverty.

COVID-19 and literacy

The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for people to receive information quickly in order for communities to reduce transmission rates and stay safe. But ensuring that health information is easy to find and understand becomes a challenge in countries with lower literacy rates, especially due to the limitation of in-person community engagement due to lockdowns and social distancing measures.

Although many organisations like Afghanaid have found workarounds in their efforts to disseminate advice and information about Coronavirus, it is clear that illiteracy can considerably increase vulnerability to COVID-19.

Lockdowns also resulted in the shut down of schools across Afghanistan - after 5 months at home, students have only just started to return. As only 20% of Afghans have access to the internet, and with 55% of the country living below the poverty line, many families could afford the devices needed to access the internet and online learning. Similarly, with many parents unable to help educate their children in this period due to being illiterate themselves, the progress that has been made in ending cycles of illiteracy has been seriously impacted. According to the analyses of the impact of Ebola on education in Sierra Leone, it is projected that Coronavirus disruptions will end or seriously delay the education of millions of children in under developed countries worldwide. 

The life-changing power of your support

With your support, we can ensure people in Afghanistan make it through this pandemic and are given the opportunity to build their literacy skills, a vital stepping stone in helping them to shape a brighter future for their children, themselves, and their country.

This Literacy Day, we're asking all of our supporters wishing to show their support to join Afghanaid's Book Club and #ReadForAfghanistan. Through helping us celebrate fantastic Afghan writers, you will be instrumental in helping us spread the word about the situation in Afghanistan, as well as the vital role of literacy skills in ending poverty.

It's simple: pick a book from our list of recommendations below, which features books both by Afghan authors and about Afghanistan. Then, either write directly to us or tag us on social media with your review of the book! Join the conversation by using the hashtags #AfghanaidsBookClub and #ReadForAfghanistan!

#ReadForAfghanistan

These are some of Afghanaid's favourite books:

  • Gulwali Passarlay, The Lightless Sky: An Afghan Refugee's Journey of Escape to a New Life in Britain;
  • Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner, or Thousand Splendid Suns;
  • Jelaluddin Rumi, Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi;
  • Harriet Sandys, Beyond That Last Blue Mountain: My Silk Road Journey;
  • John Baily, Music of Afghanistan: Professional Musicians in the City of Herat 1973-1977;
  • Heidi Kingstone, Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe;
  • Rory Stewart, The Places in Between.

Got a favourite book you think should be on this list? Let us know!

Thank you for your support

Thank you for helping us spread the word about the situation in Afghanistan by joining our campaign to #ReadForAfghanistan. The more people who know about our work, the more vulnerable communities we can reach with life-changing solutions. Your support has never been more crucial.

Take your support one step further:

Set up a fundraising page or Donate to our COVID-19 Appeal