My short-term project addresses the difficulties of educating adult women in Afghanistan, specifically, teaching them how to read. Life under Taliban rule has largely stripped them of human rights, including the right to an education, and because of this acquiring literacy has become more difficult. While the combined efforts of Prime Minister Karzai and the U.S. Government have done some good routing the Taliban from parts of the country, not everywhere is free, and even then remnants of fundamentalist thinking remain.
However, despite these difficulties, people still have the chance to learn. It is not unheard of for literate women to teach other women how to read, sometimes in secret. The goal of my short-term project is to facilitate learning by creating a toolkit that allows women to practice even when not with a teacher.
The result of my project is my final prototype. It is designed to match the material of the burkas that many of the women have to wear. This makes it easily concealable within clothing, and that coupled with its light weight makes carrying it or hiding it easy. The kit comes in two parts that can be packaged together in a cloth.
The first part is a cloth wrap that holds dry erase crayons, pencils, a small magnifying glass, chalk, and sharpeners. The second part is a binder which contains a practice folder and a booklet. The practice folder is a cloth folder with acetate sewn into it. People can then take practice pages from the booklet and insert them into the folder, which allows them to use the dry erase crayons to practice over and over. The booklet is designed to contain a number of stories, poems, rhymes, et cetera that apply to different reading levels. The booklet provides help with pronunciation and syllables, and as a person completes each booklet, they may progress to a new level with slightly harder stories and so on. This helps keep them in the area of proximity, where they feel like they are succeeding, and that feeling helps motivate them to challenge themselves.