"Educating Girls in Afghanistan" by Catholic Relief Services for CatholicMom.com Copyright 2016 Nikki Gamer for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) All rights reserved.

For many of us, we know our children will start a new school year each September. But for millions of children around the world, this may mark the first year they’ll have access to an education. In Afghanistan’s rural Ghor Province, more than 70 percent of villagers are illiterate. But they want the best for their children, and that means they want to give them a chance to learn.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been supporting education in Afghanistan since 2003, building community-based classrooms like this one, which hosts 30 second-grade girls and boys. Without this classroom, the next school is four miles away—a distance too far and too dangerous for children to walk. Community-based classrooms mean children can feel safe pursuing an education. This makes a big difference, especially for girls, whose enrollment rates increase from 17 percent in government schools to nearly 70 percent in community-based classes.

Because of this classroom, parents can send their children to school instead of to work in the fields. This helps the entire community, as children are now even teaching their parents to read and count. Education helps build a culture of peace and stability—something everyone wants for their loved ones. As one mother said after her son returned from class, “I prayed to God that one day my children would go to school. I wish them to be literate, to have a better life.”

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See more photos of this classroom and its students here: In Afghanistan, a Snapshot of Education’s Impact.

Copyright 2016 Catholic Relief Services