the Institute for Cross-cultural Exchangethe Institute for Cross-cultural Exchange

Share Literacy Afghanistan

To provide children in Afghanistan with desperately needed books we have formed partnerships allowing book distribution to schools, orphanages and libraries throughout the country.

As always, we are dependent on your generous support for the success of these projects. With your help we can donate books to thousands of deserving children at low cost through non-profit literacy partners.

Why so much in Afghanistan depends on literacy - and literacy depends on you

Photo of harvesting in Afghanistan

Afghan society endured heavy losses while fighting the Soviets after their invasion in 1979 and in the civil war that broke out after the Soviets withdrew in 1989. Subsequently, under Taliban rule, the economy and educational system was destroyed. As a result, more than an entire generation has never known peace and has had little opportunity for education or participation in a normal society. In the current climate of upheaval, another generation of Afghan children now faces a future of poverty and illiteracy. The situation in Afghanistan is desperate. The literacy needs of Afghan children are crucial to the future of their country, and thus to the stability and fruitfulness of the region. We are almost at the end of the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012), yet in Afghanistan the general literacy rate is only 29%. Only 39% of the children in school are girls.

As in every country, literacy is central to developing the many skills that the younger generation requires to survive and contribute in the modern world. This is all the more true when a country and its populace have been decimated. After decades of war, 43% of the Afghan population is under 15 years of age – in Canada, the corresponding figure is 17% – and this is combined with an infant mortality rate 30 times that of Canada. The future of their country rests on this generation of Afghan children, in dire need and facing almost insurmountable odds…

Introducing Share Literacy Afghanistan

Afghan children holding up Hoopoe books in a classroom
Children at Kabul Orphan Care hold up copies of The Clever
Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal.

ICE has partnered with the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge (ISHK) to address this literacy crisis. ISHK is a U.S.-based charity and non-profit publisher of Hoopoe Books. Collected by Afghan author Idries Shah each book published presents a remarkable Teaching-Story that has been told in Afghanistan, by campfire and candlelight, for more than 1,000 years. ISHK has received official permission from the Ministry of Education in Kabul to provide Hoopoe titles in bilingual Dari and Pashto for distribution to schools, orphanages and libraries throughout Afghanistan.

Our aim is to provide as many children as possible with their very own books. For at least 95% of Afghan children these will certainly be the first books they own – and they may well be tales that their grandparents recognize from their own childhood. We hope that repatriating these stories in book form will be a comforting bridge to literacy and a legacy for young Afghans and their future.

Why Canadians need to help Share Literacy Afghanistan

Because, unlike so many, we can help: Canadians live in such abundance and can so easily aid those struggling against poverty and illiteracy to rebuild their lives and their country.

Because literacy is essential to reconstructing a devastated country.

Our goal over the next four years is to donate 300,000 books to children in Afghanistan. You can make sure this happens by giving a tax-deductible donation. Please send your cheque, made payable to ICE, specifying “Share Literacy Afghanistan” as your choice of programme, or donate via Canada Helps.


Hoope Book - Boy Without a Name (In Dari/Pashto) cover
The Dari/Pashto translation of The
Boy Without a Name
by Idries Shah

Our Afghan Partners

Afghanistan Ministry of Education

Afghan Mobile Mini Circus for Children – MMCC


Green Village Schools

Kabul Orphan Care,
(Reza M. Afshar, President)

Khatiz Organization for Rehabilitation – KOR,
(Dr. Farid Bazger, President)


Pen Path Civil Society