KABUL - Thirty-five Afghan National Army recruits sit quietly in a tent at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), a vast military base and training area located in the eastern fringes of Afghanistan’s capital city, as an Afghan teacher works through the day’s lesson – the first letters in the alphabet.
There are 39 similar tents at KMTC, accommodating 1,400 more ANA army recruits in different phases of their literacy training. Nearly 9,000 ANA recruits are enrolled in basic training at KMTC and nearly all of them begin with learning to read, write, count and calculate.
“This is nation building at the most basic level,” said Islamudin Faizi, a master literacy teacher at KMTC. “[Literacy] also benefits Afghanistan because when soldiers get out of the army, they bring this knowledge back to their village.”
All Afghan National Security Forces training in Afghanistan includes a literacy component, and up to 80,000 members of the ANSF are enrolled in literacy training at any given time.
At KMTC, only about 13 percent of recruits pass the initial literacy test before they start training and only 23 percent of all Afghans are literate at the basic level.
During ANA basic training, recruits receive 64 hours of literacy and arithmetic instruction designed to bring them to the first of three literacy levels. At the end of this portion of their literacy instruction, soldiers will know the alphabet, will be able to write their own name and read a few words. They will be able to count to 1,000 and add and subtract triple-digit numbers. An additional 248 hours of training to Level 3, functional literacy, is provided in pre-branch training or in the fielded force.
Mandatory literacy for the ANSF began in March 2010. Today, more than 3,000 instructors deliver training in more than 5,700 classes across the nation. And at KMTC, 100 instructors provide instruction to between 7,000 and 9,000 ANA soldiers every day.
At KMTC, literacy training is planned and delivered almost entirely by Afghan soldiers and civilian contract instructors with coalition forces serving as advisors, tapped when needed to help with course scheduling and facility management.
Plans are in place for a permanent facility to replace the current tents. When complete, the facility will acommodate more than 3,000 students in classes of 30.
Raising the literacy and numeracy rate among Afghan soldiers, air force personnel and police is a crucial stage in the development of a modern professional force capable of handling Afghanistan’s security needs.
NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan is a coalition of 38 troop-contributing nations charged with assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country’s security by 2014. For more information about NTM-A, visit www.ntm-a.com.
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