News: Afghan Army, police develop reading, writing skills through Marine literacy program in Garmsir
Story by Cpl. Skyler Tooker
GARMSIR DISTRICT, Helmand province, Afghanistan—3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, launched a literacy program to help increase the literacy rate for the local Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police at the beginning of June.
The literacy rate is below 10 percent in both the ANA and ANCOP, but the Marines of 3/1 are teaching them how to read and write in both Dari and Pashto, the predominant language in Afghanistan. The ANA and ANP are even learning basic arithmetic in the literacy program.
“When we first got here, we found out that a lot of the police were illiterate,” said Richard Lomax, 50, law enforcement advisor for 3/1. “They were unable to read and write, which causes a problem when you are trying to do police work.”
So after 3/1 identified the problem they looked around to find the best way to solve the problem, said Lomax, from Maybrook, N.Y.
Third Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment heard a literacy program was getting started in their district. So, 31 pitched the idea to start teaching ANA and ANP in there are and received a $12,000 grant to start the literacy program.
“We hired three teachers, two here who instructed 30 ANA and ANP on Dari and Pashto,” said Lomax.“We picked students that are very motivated. Most of them here, sit there, pay attention and study. I think a lot of them want to learn, it’s just that they have never had the opportunity to learn. ”
Most schools in this region are agricultural schools, but few Afghans know how to read or write.
“The education system here is non-existent, and they are trying to rebuild it now and anything we can do to help it along now, is extremely important,” Lomax said.
The literacy program started in early June 2010 and will wrap up at the end of October. The teachers are hoping to get everyone to what would be equivalent to a fifth-grade reading level in the United States.
“Once they reach a certain level of competency and literacy, they will be eligible for promotion to noncommissioned officers, as well as record any incident that has occurrs and this will help us in report writing and to track ongoing events,” Lomax said.
Knowing how to read and write develops a sense of responsibility and leadership for the ANA, or ANP, and it gets them respect and opportunities for future positions, said 1st Lt. Brice C. Turner, platoon commander for PMT, 3/1.
“The literacy program really helps because it is dealing with police work and with police work it is a lot of paperwork and a lot of things you need to be able to read and write,” said Turner, 24, from Encinitas, Calif. “There is documenting evidence, statement taking, logistics requests, because they are not only out catching the bad guys but they are trying to stand up their own complete unit.”
This work, Afghan Army, police develop reading, writing skills through Marine literacy program in Garmsir, by Sgt Skyler Tooker, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.