KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Being able to read is sometimes a skill taken for granted by many American adults but in Kandahar, where some reports claim the literacy rate is around 16 percent, being able to read is a valued achievement.
The soldiers with 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are helping to professionalize the Afghan Uniformed Police by equipping them with the ability to learn to read.
“The program initially was played on the radio but because of their patrolling schedules the AUP could not learn properly,” said Capt. Richard Lopez, the stability line of effort chief for 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment. “We put the program on CD for them so they can learn at their own pace.”
The literacy program comes on eight CDs with about 46 half-hour lessons and a lesson booklet. The entire program takes about 16 weeks and will enable the AUP to read at a third-grade level.
“The way it works is, they’re given a book and listen to the program, either on radio or CD, and they follow along in the book,” said Sgt. James Prince, a psychological operations sergeant with 325th Psy. Ops. Company attached to 2nd BCT, 4th Infantry Division. “They start out learning the alphabet then they progress to sounds and words; they also practice writing everything.”
Realizing the radio literacy program wasn’t working as effectively for the AUP the CD program became a logical solution to accommodate the AUP’s patrolling schedules.
“We pitched the literacy program [on CD] to the AUP commanders to see if they were interested,” Lopez said. “One of the PSS commanders suggested that we send a proctor from each [Police Sub Station] to learn how the program operates, as a train-the-trainer and then be responsible for training the rest of the soldiers at the PSS.”
A total of eight Police Sub Stations sent representatives to receive the training and equipment.
“We are familiarizing them with the book and the program so they can use it to teach everyone else,” Prince said.
The two soldiers, along with their interpreter, taught the AUP how to operate the CD player and CD program and how the books coincide with each lesson.
“I think it will work out alright because these guys are really paying attention and seem really motivated,” Prince said.
“I have received the training. Now, I will go back and help my PSS to receive the training,” said 2nd Lt. Abdul Waris, an administration clerk with PSS 10. “I feel happy to be able to help my friends and fellow soldiers to learn to read.”
“I appreciate the invitation to be able to be part of this literacy program,” said Sgt. Mohamad Dawod, a patrolman with PSS 9. “I feel happy being able to serve my people this way.”
“I’m trying hard to learn all I can and I’m excited to be here learning to teach,” said 3rd Lt. Niamatullah, a checkpoint commander with PSS 17.
Though the train-the-trainer is a one-time event, Lopez will make weekly trips to each PSS to monitor how the training is being received.
This work, Bison trains AUP to instruct literacy classes, by SSG Ruth Pagan, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.