Challenges and Contradictions in Parental Involvement in Early Literacy Development: A Study in Nangarhar and Kandahar, Afghanistan

Avicenna University is thrilled to announce, that one of its researches “Challenges and Contradictions in Parental Involvement in Early Literacy Development: A Study in Nangarhar and Kandahar, Afghanistan” is out now. We are grateful to several organizations and individuals that made this study possible. We express our heartfelt gratitude to the USAID’s Afghan Children Read (ACR) project for it is generous support and funding the project. We are also thank all students, parents, teachers, school principals, SMSs, Directorate of Social Mobilization and School Shura (DSMSs), who contributed to the completion of this study. We thank the support of the Afghanistan Ministry of Education (MoE) that introduced and connected us with the pertinent departments and identified schools that served as our study partners and respondents. This study was not possible without academic contribution, review, comments, writing and re-writing of several scholars; thanks to Prof. Dr. phil. Uwe Bittlingmayer and Dr. Stefanie Harsch, from the Freiburg University, Germany, and Dr. Diana SAHRAI, from FHNW School of Education, Switzerland, and Dr. Asadullah Jawed, who contributed immensely to the analysis of the data and to the drafting of discussion, conclusion and finalization of the study report. We also thank Dr. Genevieve Balance-Kupang, for her edits. Thanks to Dr. Mamdouh Fazil, Dr. Mohammad Javad Ahmadi, Mohammad Jawed Nazari and Mr. Rahimi from the ACR, and Noor Mohammad Atapoor, Ahmad Zia Bahrami and Reza Siar, from the Avicenna University. We hope that this study insights MoE and other education stakeholders to design effective, culturally, and socially inclusive initiatives and programs to establish a meaningful parental involvement aimed at developing early grade reading and writing in Afghanistan.

This study was conducted with eighteen (18) third grade school children (boys and girls) along with their parents, teachers, school principal, and school Management shuras (SMSs) in four, mostly rural, school communities in the Jalalabad district of Nangarhar province, and the Daman district of Kandahar province. This study is an effort to understand parental involvement in their children’s learning in the Afghan context while focusing on how such involvement intersects with early literacy development.

It looks at three key elements of parental involvement: motives, perceptions, and strategies, while focusing on both structure and agency to understand the complex context impacting parental involvement in the early literacy development of their children. Under the post-conflict circumstances of Afghanistan, schooling and education service delivery involves more actors and structures that shape the everyday interactions between schools and communities impacting the role of parents. This study explored multiple levels within the household, the community and the school; the boundaries between these levels; the interaction between actors; and the structures and surrounding post-conflict situation shaping and complicating such boundaries and interactions.

Parents, in the context of this study, generally understand the value of their children’s education and what it means for their future and wellbeing. Conflict, insecurity, illiteracy, and poverty cripple parents’ capacity to turn this understanding and their aspirations for their children’s education into actual strategies. Gender politics intersectionality with parental involvement in early learning in the two provinces shows the ambivalence of parents and other stakeholders between, the patriarchal social structures that are rooted in a harsh rural life, and the growing awareness about girls’ education as a result of the tireless efforts of MOE and the donor community over the past two decades. Despite the establishment of the SMS structure to ensure parental involvement and improve school governance, the SMS role within the school is scrutinized and limited by education authorities to access related efforts and infrastructure improvement. Student access issues such as enrollment, absenteeism and discipline are easier and more convenient for school actors to address as compared to quality learning issues. Finally, parents are devoted to enrolling their children to religious lessons at a mosque and the Madrasas that have grown beyond the Afghan state’s control. Thus, the Afghan children’s early literacy experience embodies several contradictions that are brought about by their enrollment in both public schools and forms of Islamic education.

Please read the full report here <https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PA00XC5R.pdf>