The Roqia Center provides free adult education for couples in Afghanistan. Husbands and wives with little or no formal education are taught literary basics, with the lone requirement that they learn together–they share the same books, sit together in class, and complete their homework together at home.

History

Since 2002, over one thousand beneficiaries have participated in these classes. Most participated in our year-long “First Year” course, which covers the equivalent of the first three grades of Afghan primary education. Approximately two hundred of our First Year graduates have also participated in our “Second Year” course, consisting of more advanced learning in a wider range of subjects, including math, history, civics, ecology, and governance.

The classes are held in Kabul and Balkh Provinces, almost all in suburban or urban neighborhoods of Kabul City and Mazar-e Sharif respectively. While only held in these two provinces, students have travelled from more than seventeen different provinces to attend. Most classes consist of a broad spectrum of ethnicities and religious sects, all learning together in a single classroom.

Adult Couples Policy

All classes are restricted to adult married couples. While the Roqia Center’s primary mission is the empowerment of women, in the difficult social circumstances found in Afghanistan this can sometimes be best achieved by empowering the decision makers within the population, while doing so in a way that mandates gender-neutral opportunities. While education of young girls and boys may be vital for the longer term future of a society, the education of adults as voters and community decision makers can have a much more immediate impact on the short term healing and development of a post-conflict civil society such as Afghanistan’s. Strictly enforcing attendance for both husbands and wives ensures that wives are not going to be accused of participating in an activity detrimental to the couple’s relationship, and avoids the stigma sometimes attached to women participating in an activity outside the home without a male relative companion.