FARAH CITY, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Representatives from Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah attended a ceremony marking the transition of the Learning for Community Empowerment Program II (LCEP II) to the Farah Directorate of Education in Farah City April 1.
LCEP II, a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was implemented by United Nations (UN) Habitat that promoted literacy, provided vocational training and tools and supported the development of community banks.
PRT members arrived at UN-Habitat's facilities a few minutes early to meet with Frozan Abdullah, Farah Provincial Coordinator for UN-Habitat, to review the success and transition of the program to local government.
They also planned to look over the physical items that would be transferred from the LCEP II program to the Directorate of Education, including desks, chairs, computers, books and other training materials. Additionally, the team members saw items made by students of the program including embroidered and hand-knit goods, an air conditioning unit and a milk and cream separating machine.
After completing their tour of the facilities and reviewing the goods that would be transferred, the team attended the ceremony. Approximately 40 faculty and students of the program attended the event. Mirwais Daqiq Rasooli, the provincial Director of Literacy, was the senior member of the Directorate of Education in attendance.
"Without improvements in education, the violence will continue in this country," said Rasooli, who was accepting the program on behalf of the Directorate.
More than 13k students completed the literacy portion of LCEP II during its five years in existence, further building the basic capacity of Farahis and helping to raise overall literacy rates within the province.
"LCEP is not one of USAID's more famous programs in Afghanistan because it hasn't funded large buildings or infrastructure. But I believe it has contributed to something much more important - building the skills of Afghan people, increasing their opportunities in life and ability to support their families," said Chris Geurtsen, a USAID Field Program Officer with PRT Farah.
One student, who was illiterate prior to going through the LCEP II literacy course, explained to ceremony attendees how after learning to read through the program, she enrolled and passed the 6th grade. She is currently enrolled in 7th grade classes and she set out a challenge to her fellow Afghans.
"Every brother and sister, you should do as I did and improve yourself through education," she said.
Another benefit of the program was the vocational training available to participants, more than 3k of who learned a skilled trade through the program. Students who completed vocational training courses through LCEP II were also provided with a full kit of tools in order to pursue the development of their craft, or even to start their own business.
For those who chose the entrepreneurial route, LCEP II provided the framework for local, community banks to develop, which provided micro-loans to aspiring business people and to help stabilize communities. In total, over $1.6 million Afghani were saved in local banks during the program's duration.
"LCEP is not being cancelled - it is transitioning. The Government of Afghanistan has much more capacity to deliver services now than it did 10 years ago, and USAID is moving away from supplementing those services with NGOs and implementing partners, and toward more direct on-budget support to the Government itself,"said Geurtsen.
PRT Farah's mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province, Afghanistan. Their civil-military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
For more information about the PRT follow their page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PRTFRH.