Third of Afghan security forces illiterate despite training program

Photo: Third of Afghan security forces illiterate despite training program / NATO

More than a third of the Afghan security forces (ANSF) remain illiterate, and 45 per cent of recruits between July 2012 and February 2013 were enlisted as police without participating in a NATO literacy program, officials said Tuesday, dpa reported.

Literacy has been a significant training challenge for ANSF personnel, less than 13,000 of whom were at a basic level of reading or writing proficiency in 2009.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), an independent unit created by the US Congress in 2008, said the program has had "a limited impact on the actual level of literacy in the ANSF." Literacy achievement goals were set by military authorities in the initial stages of the reconstruction program, and were subsequently called unrealistic by officials.

There are currently 352,000 members of the ANSF. According to a January report from SIGAR, 64 per cent of ANSF forces pass level one literacy testing and 21 per cent pass level three as of October 2013. The third level, which is the highest provided by the program, represents 120 hours of training.

Contracts issued by NATO's Afghanistan command to provide literacy training are valued at 200 million dollars.

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