October 15, 2007 13:00 ET

Canada's New Government Increases its Commitment to Enhancing Girls' Education in Afghanistan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 15, 2007) - The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, accompanied by Mr. Khalil Shariff, CEO of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, today increased Canada's commitment to improving Afghanistan's education system through the Foundation's Girls' Education Support Program (GESP). The contribution will directly benefit more than 100,000 girls and 4,600 teachers. The Minister made this announcement while participating in a student forum at Ottawa's Joan of Arc Academy.

"After years of conflict and insecurity, Afghanistan's education system is one of the weakest in the world. This has deeply affected the country's ability to rebuild and sustain itself," said Minister Oda. "But progress is being made, and Canada continues to reinforce its role as a leader for education in Afghanistan, particularly for women and girls."

"This program will build on the Aga Khan Foundation's many years of experience and expertise strengthening access to and the quality of education in some of the most impoverished parts of Africa and Asia, often in partnership with Canada and Canadian institutions," said Khalil Z. Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada. "At the same time, our objective is to strengthen the ability of Afghans, from parents and children to government and institutions of civil society, to rebuild the education sector at all levels."

The GESP will help address many of the needs identified in the Government of Afghanistan's Five-Year National Education Strategic Plan. These include early childhood education, investing in improved teacher training for women, distance education, secondary education for girls, and improvements to school facilities. The GESP will be implemented by the Aga Khan Foundation Canada - a trusted partner with a proven track record in Afghanistan.

Canada's New Government will invest $8 million in this initiative, which complements a commitment of $60 million to the Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP), Afghanistan's largest education initiative. Minister Oda announced EQUIP funding on October 4 with visiting Afghan Minister of Education, His Excellency Haneef Atmar. Canada's commitment to the initiative is the largest made to the program by any donor to date.

Today's announcement is part of Canada's total contribution of $1.2 billion over 10 years aimed at governance, security and development in Afghanistan. It builds on the commitment made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last February, when he announced substantive funds to accelerate the reconstruction and development process.

For more information on Canada's programming in Afghanistan, please refer to CIDA's website at

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Jean-Luc Benoit
    Director of communications
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office
    819-953-6534 (electronic version of document)