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    203rd Corps kicks off Literacy Program

    203rd Corps kicks off Literacy Program

    Photo By Spc. Luke Austin | Information about the 203rd Corps Literacy Program is written down by one of the...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Luke Austin 

    33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

    CAMP THUNDER, Gardez, Afghanistan — An illiterate person is like a blind person, explained Mohammad Ashraf, a Master Teacher for the 203rd Corps Literacy Program.

    "When I teach a person to be literate," he said, "I am giving him eyes to see the world."

    In an effort to lead the blind, as Ashraf put it, the Afghan national army started the Literacy Program. The intent behind the program is to teach ANA Soldiers how to read and write Dari and Pashtu, a much-needed skill for an army with an illiteracy rate among its Soldiers of approximately 80 percent.

    "If [most] ANA soldiers can't read or write, they will be ill-informed on religious, social and national issues," Ashraf further explained. "Literacy is key to developing a democratic society."

    The 203rd Corps is the last of the ANA to kick off its Literacy Program. Today was the 203rd Corps' opening ceremony at Camp Thunder ANA Base, welcoming its teachers to the program. All other ANA corps began the program within the last two months, stated Rick Mobley, the Literacy Program coordinator.

    On May 6, the teachers will begin a seven to 10 day training process on the instruction of reading and writing. The training is provided by two Afghan University of Nebraska professors, said Mobley.

    Once teachers have finished training, they will be sent to bases under the 203rd Corps' command to begin teaching Soldiers. Through literacy Soldiers of the ANA will begin to more fully understand their government, said ANA Lt. Col. Abdul Almiri, the 203rd Corps Cultural Affairs deputy advisor.

    "When we educate our Soldiers, they can help the progress of change for Afghanistan," he said. "When a Soldier goes to his village, he can help educate his family. As families become more educated, villages become more educated."

    Education is the first goal, Almiri noted. To help ensure Soldiers receive the best instruction the Afghan Ministry of Defense vetted the teachers through a testing process. The highest scoring teachers were given the title Master Teacher, and will oversee teachers at every location.

    In Afghanistan's east region, where the 203rd Corps operates, there will be approximately six to 12 teachers, including a Master Teacher, at each location: Gardez, Sharana, Ghazni and Khowst, Mobley explained.

    While the ANA, including the 203rd Corps, is constantly engaged in counterinsurgency operations with hostile anti-Afghan Forces, a main concern for the teachers is safety. However, the support of the U.S. military and Coalition forces and the ANA, said Mobley, has demonstrated their commitment to provide a secure environment for the teachers.

    "I want you to understand the need is for the Soldiers. The need is for Afghanistan," Mobley said to teachers at the opening ceremony. "The ANA and [coalition forces] will provide secure housing; a place for you to work and rest."

    Safety aside, however, the teachers have all come to teach ANA Soldiers because they do understand the need.

    "America is helping us, and this is my country," said Master Teacher Ashraf. "This is my country and it is my duty to support its needs. My passion is to see democracy in Afghanistan one day."

    Mobley expressed his passion and commitment for future success as well.

    "The colonel mentioned that maybe he's crazy for being so passionate about this program," Mobley said, referring to Col. Syad Waqif Shah, the 203rd Corps's Literacy Program director and Religious and Cultural Affairs advisor, "But he's not. He has a fire in his heart to see this program succeed. And I pray... that the fire is in everyone's heart."



    Date Taken: 05.04.2009
    Date Posted: 05.04.2009 09:54
    Story ID: 33158
    Location: CAMP THUNDER, AF 

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