Vocational training centre in Baghlan helps break cycle of poverty

By Muhammad Qasem

A new technical and vocational training centre in Afghanistan's Baghlan province will help hundreds of impoverished women and men acquire needed skills to become self-sufficient. The World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), established the training centre on October 17, in Pul-e-Khumri city. [Courtesy of Mahmood Zarifi]

BAGHLAN -- A new technical and vocational training centre in Baghlan province will help hundreds of impoverished women and men acquire needed skills to become self-sufficient.

The World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), established the training centre, which opened October 17 in Pul-e-Khumri city.

"We have established a technical and vocational training centre where 427 women and 73 men have the opportunity to learn skills in areas such as tailoring, stitching, leather embroidery and motorcycle repair for six months," said Mohammad Tahir Sultani, director of AKDN's economic partnership division.

"The beneficiaries are poor women and men who have been identified from different districts in the centre of Baghlan province," he said.

Women attend a sewing course funded by WFP in Pul-e-Khumri, provincial capital of Baghlan, on November 8. [Courtesy of Mahmood Zarifi]

Women attend a sewing course funded by WFP in Pul-e-Khumri, provincial capital of Baghlan, on November 8. [Courtesy of Mahmood Zarifi]

"They will receive 7,000 AFN ($80) per month, food aid and work tools for free during the training," he added.

"The purpose of establishing the technical and vocational centre is to teach women who have been facing economic hardship a profession that will help them achieve self-sufficiency in the future and earn a living," he said.

Sultani said AKDN is planning to launch the second phase of the project upon completion of the first phase so that other women, who have been marginalised, can also learn a profession and become self sufficient.

Fighting poverty

"We first surveyed these women, and after identification and biometrics, they started their practical and theoretical lessons," said Nasratullah Parsa, director of labour and social affairs in Baghlan province.

"Women have a crucial and important role to play in society, and it is incumbent on us to create employment opportunities for them so they can earn a living," he said.

Such training courses will help reduce poverty and empower women, he said.

"If women are given the opportunity in various fields, they can bring about change and overcome economic challenges," said Rohullah Qurbani, a civil society activist in Baghlan.

"Prohibiting women from working not only increases economic problems but also the poverty rate amongst Afghan households," Qurbani said.

"Women, like men, have studied and made progress over the past two decades. They must have the opportunity to go out and work in public and private sector organisations," he added.

'Not a liability'

A number of beneficiaries at the centre, most of whom are school-age students, see in the training centre a way for them to cope with psychological pressures, especially since they have been banned from going to school.

Nasira Mohammadi, 21, a 12th grader at Bibi Aysha Siddiqa high school in Baghlan, told Salaam Times that because of the lack of professional job opportunities, she decided to learn sewing and become a tailor.

"I was about to graduate this year, but since schools have remained closed, I have enrolled in a knitting course [at the centre] and am learning how to make different types of clothes," she said.

After finishing the course, Mohammadi said she will be able to economically support her family.

Roheena Sarwari, 22, an 11th-grade student at Pul-e-Khumri's Bibi Hawa girls' high school, said that because she may not go to school, she is learning embroidery, a skill she highly enjoys.

"We can learn and work under any circumstances as long as the right opportunities are provided to us," she said.

Zohra Haqjo, 24, who has been training at the vocational centre for six months, said that now that she has learned tailoring skills, she can utilise the acquired skills to economically support her family.

"Every day I leave my house and come here for one reason: to learn something so that I do not become a liability to society," she said.

"Learning to sew is the only viable option, especially for women, under the current circumstances, and we must go for it," she said.

"My father is ill, and my mother is jobless. I have to take up sewing and use my income to support my family," she added.

"This is a great opportunity for girls and women to become self sufficient so that they learn together and plan for a better future."

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Malala Yousafzai, the only Pashtun winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, called for a special meeting of international leaders on the situation of Afghan women. She made this request while participating and speaking in a protest called by some leading Afghan women in London. She criticized the silence of the world leaders regarding the situation of Afghan women and the ruling administration of the Taliban. Also, they have requested to release the imprisoned female protestors as soon as possible. The Taliban abducted the female protestors some time ago and have not yet released them. If anyone criticizes the Taliban regime, they are getting imprisoned and tortured. The Taliban are not committed to freedom of speech and do not allow people to share their problems freely. If there is any excess and someone wants to protest peacefully, the Taliban stop them. However, even though the Taliban has not yet allowed protests in their own right and for their benefit, they still do not accept the claims that they do not allow people to protest. The Taliban take money from foreigners and put it in their own pockets. The government sector is paralyzed, and the private sector is silent due to the dire economic situation of the people. Maulvi Abdul Kabir, political assistant to the head of the ministers, yesterday, Sunday/November 27, during a meeting with a high-ranking representative of the European Union, said that according to the Islamic Sharia, women had been given all the rights. Still, evi


The family indeed earns income through vocational training. It should be noted that in the rest of the world, those people are sent to vocational education whose grades are unsuitable for the fields of medicine, engineering, law, technology, etc. It's not like when a girl has a top position in class 10th, 11th, 12th, has top marks, and they send her to learn to tailor. People with fewer chances of advancement in the academic field should be sent to tailoring. Many people cannot progress in the academic area, but they can go well in the fields of technology, carpentry, and cooking... In addition to such projects, the world community should ask the current rulers to reopen girls' schools and allow girls to study.


This professional training program in Baghlan province is a help from WFP and Agha Khan Development Network which is really a humanitarian aid from every side. Vocational training program in Baghlan province for poor men and women is the work of building the future. These women and men can earn an amount of AFN 7000 per month in six months of training and find a piece of bread for their family and become the owner of a business. This way, the number of poor women and men in Baghlan province decreases. Poor women and men should make good use of this WFP program. In this sensitive situation where unemployment is high in Afghanistan, this program is very effective. WFP should also start a professional training program in all provinces of Afghanistan. Again, many thanks to the WFP office and the Agha Khan Development Network which helps the people of Afghanistan.