UN-HABITAT’s work in Afghanistan received a major shot in the arm this week after high level visits by the United States First Lady Laura Bush and the U.S. and the Transport Secretary, Ms. Mary E. Peters.
The First Lady met with representatives of the Women’s Teacher Training Institute. Established in 2004 with funding from the United States Agency for International Development, the institute is supported by UN-HABITAT. The officials she met included UN-HABITAT Programme Manager, Ms. Hamida Noor, and two literacy experts, Ms.Mari Anwary, and Ms. Storai Firozi who work with her as members of the National Literacy Centre which supports a community based project called the Learning for Community Empowerment serving more than 300,000 adults and older youth in 20 provinces.
The Teachers’ Training Institute is an initiative of First Lady Bush to promote literacy in Afghanistan. She showered the project with praise saying she was impressed by the work done so far.
As on her two previous visits to Afghanistan, Mrs. Bush emphasized her support for women’s development and educational and training projects. She flew to Bamian, one of the country’s poorest provinces, which is overseen by Afghanistan’s only woman governor, Ms. Habiba Sarabi, a former minister of women’s affairs.
The US Secretary of Transport was welcomed by the Afghan Minister of Education, Mr. Mohamed Haneef Atmar, and UN-HABITAT officials, Binod Shrestha and Nouchine Yavari, the Country Program Manager.
The UN-HABITAT team sought further American support to promote literacy integrated with productive skills and micro finance throughout Afghanistan. They also sought assistance to provide capacity building opportunities for literacy educators.