U.S. Spends Five Years And $200 Million To Teach Afghan Soldiers To Read . . . Fifty Percent Remain Illiterate

200px-Non_Commissioned_Officers_of_the_Afghan_National_ArmyWe have previously discussed the obscene amount of money — in the hundreds of billions — spent in Afghanistan and Iraq as we cancel or curtail educational, scientific, and environmental programs at home. The sheer waste and corruption in those countries is breathtaking. We can now add a five-year program where we have spent $200 million dollars to teach Afghan soldiers to read but is now considered a total failure — after almost a quarter of a billion dollars. As we discussed earlier, there is again no word of any actual discipline for the people that approved and managed this colossal failure.

The literacy program for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) was a valid objective but, like so many in these wars, it appears to have been managed with almost willful blindness. There was not even a basic record of actual soldiers who achieved literacy. While the goal of the program was to make 100 percent of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) able to read at a first grade level and 50 percent literate at a third grade level, those goals are not viewed after five years and $200 million as “unrealistic” and unattainable.”

This was not a particularly high standard. For the primary goal, the administrators only need to teach soldiers to read, write, pronounce, and identify letters, read and write short words, read and write one’s own name, and count up to 1,000. To achieve the highest goal, a soldier must only be able to read, write, and comprehend short paragraphs, use correct punctuation to aid meaning and understanding. He must also be able to add and subtract using six-digits numbers and multiply and divide with three-digit numbers.

Here is what we have to show for almost a quarter of a billion dollars and five years of contracting: only 73,700 ANSF soldiers reached a third grade level and only 224,000 had passed the first grade level literacy test. The government now admits that the program appears to have had limited impact on actual literacy levels within the ANSF. Many who could read have left the army.

As of Feb. 2013, roughly half of the ANSF was still illiterate. Moreover, the report concluded that “45 percent of police personnel recruited between July 2012 and February 2013 were sent directly to field checkpoints without receiving any literacy training.”

In the meantime, the entire funded program will now handed over the Afghans who have shown more interest in the funding than the objectives of these programs. The Afghans have already stated that they will not extend the training time for recruits who need the literacy training. Of course, if they change their minds, they will have to look for a place to teach the classes since many of those new schools were built at huge expense are still deemed unfit for occupation.

The International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan (ISAF), which is led by U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, has still not agreed to all of the recommendations of the SIGAR report and issued a press notice stating they had implemented new contracts for literacy training.

Source: Daily Beast

23 thoughts on “U.S. Spends Five Years And $200 Million To Teach Afghan Soldiers To Read . . . Fifty Percent Remain Illiterate

  1. That is so they will be able to read the ‘instruction manuals’ for all the weapons we’re going to leave there when we finally do pull out…. However, with ‘wrong-winged’ christians that we have holding the country under seige right now, ‘PULLING OUT’ just isn’t an option.

  2. Learning is nearly impossible when one is under continuous physical and mental stress. This applies not only when one fears being droned or having one’s home raided in the middle of the night, but also the stress of poverty even in the US.

  3. The waste never seems to end. And our government is 100% responsible for this happening and continuing to happen. Examples like this show a total disregard for reason. But I have no confidence the current leadership in Congress or the Presidency want to reverse this trend.

  4. I hear a sucking sound, it’s our tax dollars going down that black hole called Afghanistan. The women and girls want desperately to be able to go to school without acid being thrown at them, while these men get a free education and squander it.

  5. Let the Afghans teach the Afghans how to read. Just let them use their own money. The entire government contracting process needs to be thrown out and redone. Not just for foreign aid, but all government contracts.

  6. Our government is going to spend the money – waste it in Afghanistan or waste it in a new stimulus program, Washington is indifferent.

    Our money ( or better said, our increasing debts) are going to be squandered.

  7. I honestly don’t see how this is anything like a surpise. Anyone who has dealt with the people in Afghanistan can attest to; they have little care for much of anything long-term.

    Soldiers not showing up for reading training? So what? They’ll probably still get paid 20% of what they were promised, while their Afghan commander skims the rest. Why learn to read when they’ll never use it?

    Americans aren’t usually running the reading program, or if they are, they are not the ones that enforce attendance. Afghans are still the ones in charge of getting their personnel to training, so if somsone doesn’t show up, all the Americans can do is “look on with concern” at the Afghan counterpart. We don’t dictate to them wherever possible. It’s become a game of politics. It’s part of the reason that Karzai can posture like he is right now.

    The effort to teach their folks to read is a great idea, but impractical when we can’t get half of their Soldiers or Officers to show up for training or work on a regular basis.

    As far as it being “100%” our government’s fault… I guess that could be laid at their feet. Why trust the country we’re trying to help to do their part? Cut them loose and leave them to their own illiterate devices.

  8. Darren Smith

    The waste never seems to end. And our government is 100% responsible for this happening and continuing to happen. Examples like this show a total disregard for reason. But I have no confidence the current leadership in Congress or the Presidency want to reverse this trend.
    =====================
    Even if they did want to, could they? (who calls the shots?)

  9. 200 million is a drop in the bucket. Obummer wasted a half a billion on Solandra and got nothing. The lives of the best U.S. citizens and the wounded are the loss that is the waste. When we pullout alqaeda will step in just like Iraq

  10. You know, I don’t approve of Social Democracy as a philosophy, I’m more for a libertarian agenda with a few social assurances to fill the biggest cracks that one might fall into. But, if you are already forking out billions as taxpayers, it would behoove a society to get more than the tiniest of percentages back, such as is often the case for Americans who don’t collect welfare, are not politicians, don’t own well lobbied corporations, and have to pay more for health services. Going to Britain recently I really noticed this. Since Thatcher, their taxes are not much more than ours but there is a lot of ‘free’ stuff, including health, museums etc. Maybe its because they wasted less dollars on Afghanistan & none on Iraq. Well, I do think that Social Democracy will increase in this country but if we want to slow it down, we should pick something other than healthcare not to spend money on. Afghanistan is a perfect example.

  11. We need an account that back tracks & follows the money to look for special crony interests being serviced. Moral hazard with public money is one thing that we grunt about but can’t stop after the fact. But if the money was simply laundered through a program, or if some special interest PRIVATE EQUITY firm was either serviced financially or swooped in to buy up any assets after systems failure (pennies on the dollar) then this should be criminally investigated for real fraud. Too much of this waste is never accounted for, and mission creep is an easy exploit when personal/private gains are being made as the process is bled out.

  12. What could 200 million have done for education and school infrastructure in THIS country? Think about it.

  13. They need some of our finest union teachers over there. We also sent over attorneys and homicide detectives to teach the Afghans how to prosecute crime. I know a retired cop who went over there for a year. It paid 200k, TAX FREE. He said it was one big clusterf@ck.

  14. How about spending some f that so called educational money here….first of all to educate the President..about how the construction of the constitution really works….

  15. The invasion/occupation of Afghanistan was stillborn at it’s inception 7Oct01.

    There were/are no strategic US interests at stake in Afghanistan.

    The entire US/NATO led military occupation of Afghanistan is one giant bloody boondoggle that has served to increase human misery/suffering while enriching a very slim minority of war profiteers.

  16. I would like the federal government give that money to North Carolina colleges to teach athletes how to spull, read, write, do rithmatic. Anyone see the recent report on this college sports disaster?

  17. For that kind of money, I believe I could have taught the entire Afghan army to read and write fluent Latin AND convert them all to Roman Catholicism.

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