Story of Sonia, Kabul, Afghanistan

At what age did you begin learning English and computer skills?

I was 22 years old when I began studying English and computer skills near our house in district 10 of Kabul city. This was in 2010, when the Afghan National Association for Adult Education (ANAFAE) opened the Adult Learning Centre (ALC) offering different sections and learning subjects.

Why did you not learn English and computer skills as a child?

When I was 9 years old, the English language and computer skills were not essential subjects to learn. They were not required to be used in the offices too much. Also, there were not many learning centres. Besides, while the Taliban regime held the reins of power for 5 years, they allowed women neither to exit from their houses nor to study. After the Taliban regime had been toppled, English and computer skills became a fundamental and integral part of government and foreign institutions. For these reasons, I began to learn when I was not too young.

What was the most difficult thing about learning as an adult?

As English is my second language and computers are a new technology in our country, it was very difficult for me to learn in the beginning, because I did not study them in my childhood. However, as time went by all my problems were solved with my dear teachers’ assistance and ANAFAE services.

Why did you want to learn?

I started school after a lot of problems and long consideration; our teachers had encouraged me a lot. They advised me to learn English and computer skills. They reasoned that they are our fundamental needs. They said that even if we were to graduate from school or university, we wouldn’t be able to find a job unless we study computer skills and English. I studied and graduated from an English Interchange curriculum after 16 months. Besides that, I also joined some special conversation classes, grammar and news and MS Office computer software classes. I did this to fulfil mine and my family’s needs and to save myself from poverty and being unemployed.

What has it meant for you? How has your life changed?

My life changed miraculously after I learned English and computer skills. In two years I fulfilled my expectations and hopes. After I graduated from school, I started working part time. In the meantime, I go to university. I can pay the expenses of my university and feed my family through working as an office assistant and data entry clerk in a USAID funded project called Afghan Rule of Law (ARoLP) in the Supreme Court of Afghanistan. I love to help the forlorn people of Afghanistan and the young generation of my county so that they will have a bright future.

Based on your experience, what would you like to say to other adults?

My message to other adults is this: I never accepted a hand-out, but I accepted a hand-up. Your future success is up to you – why not you? There will never be a change unless you make a change. Reprogram yourselves to focus on who you want to be. The past is the past. The present will pave the road of your future and you should attempt to find a fruitful future.