A recent decision by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to end support of the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre (ACCC) has left administrators of the Kandahar-based institution scrambling to find other avenues of funding. (Paul Watson, “U.S. rushes in to fund Afghan school for girls after CIDA failed to renew funding,” Toronto Star, 30 September 2012.) The ACCC was created in 2006 and backed by the Afghan School Project, in order to provide professional education opportunities for Afghanis.
Although CIDA had provided the centre with approximately $500,000 since 2008, which was a full 89% of their budget, the agency is now taking a more basic approach to education with less emphasis on supporting organizations such as the ACCC. According to Watson’s article, CIDA did not want the community centre to be totally dependent on Canadian aid.
The school’s founder and principal Ehsan Ehsanullah expressed his belief that this reversal in policy contradicts the needs of the Afghan development:
Many wish here that Canada continue their humanitarian assistance so that the heavy sacrifices and investment Canada once made in Kandahar, and the region, are fully honoured and rewarded . . . and so that Canada’s friends are not let down, and that the international coalition built against evil remains intact until Afghanistan is stable and peaceful.
President of the Canadian International Learning Foundation, one of the key supporters of the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre, Ryan Aldred argued that “it’s worth investing a modest amount of money in a permanent building and for additional scholarships for women in Kandahar to ensure that the centre continues to thrive and grow over the years to come.”
Thankfully, the U.S. government has stepped forward with a grant to ensure the school can continue to operate this year. (“U.S. State Department Announces New Partnership,” The Afghan School Project, 9 October 2012.)
Photo Credit: ISAF