By Nabila Ashrafi
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) director and representative in Afghanistan, Patricia McPhillips, on Sunday said 90 percent of women and 63 percent of men in the country's villages are not able to read or compute.
Addressing the Award Ceremony of the 2016 Bibigul UNESCO Literacy Prize, she said the number of those who cannot read, write or compute is more than 11 million.
"According to the National Literacy Action Plan, the estimated national adult literacy rates for those above 15 years old is 34 percent with 18 percent for women and 15 percent for men. In rural areas the situation is even more acute. An estimated 90 percent of Afghan women and 63 percent of men cannot, read, write or compute," she said.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Assadullah Hanif Balkhi said almost 80 percent of illiterate citizens in Afghanistan are women.
"Literacy training is not enough; it should continue to further education, especially for those living in rural areas," he said.
Speaking at the event, the First Lady Rula Ghani, said efforts should be made to boost literacy rates in the country.
"Literacy training is not only for adults, but it is a must for all levels of our society. Even school students should properly learn to read and write in order to call themselves actually literate," she said.
According to figures by the Ministry of Education, almost 300,000 students graduate annually from 15,000 literacy training centers around the country.
"To overcome illiteracy in Afghanistan, we need the people's cooperation, because government cannot achieve this goal on its own," said Raz Mohammad Dalili, head of Sanayee Development Organization – which was awarded the prize.