The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation
Addressing the Critical Issues Facing Asia - 60 Years
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Books for Asia in Afghanistan

The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program has donated more than 383,000 books to institutions in Afghanistan since 1954. The program operated in-country from the 1950s to the 1970s and reopened in 2002.

Status of Education in Afghanistan

Afghanistan's low literacy rates, estimated at 43 percent for adult males and 12.6 percent for adult females in 2000, hinder the country's economic and political development. Over the past five years, the Afghan government has been able to dramatically increase the number of children admitted into schools. However, security concerns and the lack of qualified teachers willing to work in many parts of the country remain enormous obstacles to serving this nation of 32.7 million people. Universities, schools, public libraries, and other institutions desperately need resources and assistance to rebuild their facilities, retrain their staff, and restock their shelves with local language and English books. English was introduced as a required second language in grades 4-12 in 2006.

Current Focus

Books for Asia donates 40,000 new books donated by American publishers annually to about 280 institutions throughout the country. These include public libraries, schools, universities and teacher training centers to support youth and adult literacy; and nongovernmental organizations and government ministries to augment The Asia Foundation's work with local partners in law and governance.

Read more about The Asia Foundation's work in Afghanistan.

Partner and Project Highlights

Rabia-e Balkhi Girls High School. The Asia Foundation supports the renewal of this historic school, which educates 3,500 girls in war-torn Kabul; 90 percent of the school was destroyed during the civil war. With support from Books for Asia, the Goldman Fund, National Geographic Society, and Jalal Foundation, a modern library and resource center have been created, faculty have been retrained, classrooms have been rebuilt, and the campus has been enhanced with conference rooms to provide a sustainable income.

Teacher Training Centers. Books for Asia donates books to Teacher Training Centers in 34 provinces across the country—helping teachers access new methodologies for instruction. 10,000 books were provided from 2007-2008.

Reading Rooms. Publicly accessible reading rooms have been established at Paktia University, Kandahar University, Afghan Women's Lawyers Council, and the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Justice.

Major publisher donors: McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lynne Rienner, W.W. Norton & Company, Island Press, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The students of Rabia-e-Balkhi Girls High School are using the books donated by The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia Program every day. [These books] are enriching the girl's studies."
- Principle of Rabia-e-Balkhi Girls High School.


Books for Asia - Afghanistan
Phone: +93 (0) 752 023 558

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