Our mission: The Sparks Academies in Afghanistan provide an exemplary Early Childhood Development program to enable Afghan communities to realize their full potential.
The Sparks Academy in Afghanistan was founded on November 1, 2003, as the country’s first independent Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre, with 50 five year-old boys and girls, representing a mix of ethnic, cultural, and religious traditions. With support from her family and the community in Afghanistan, the program has since grown to encompass six centres presently supporting 900 students. A foundational pillar of the Sparks philosophy has been a commitment made by Roshan to provide quality, culturally-relevant programming for students and parents.
A purpose-built headquarters centre was established in Kabul in 2010, after years of operating out of rented properties. This Sparks centre now serves as a base for teacher training, curriculum development, and program administration – including overseeing Sparks initiatives which have brought the Academy program directly into the homes of Afghans in need, including those with disabilities who are unable to attend a centre in-person. Today, Sparks ECD programs serve children from birth to age eight, their parents, and expectant families.
A Community of Learners
At Sparks, education is celebrated not as a tool of individualistic advancement, but as a journey of discovery, which can ennoble and empower communities. We believe in the age-old maxim: it takes a village to raise a child, but go further to suggest that by educating a child, one could raise the quality of life for the whole village.
In the Sparks Academies, the pluralistic and rich heritage of Afghanistan is celebrated and preserved through the writing, illustration and publication of traditional Afghan stories. Families directly participate in their child’s learning through meaningful service in the Academies. For instance, mothers contribute to educational resource development, using traditional handicrafts as authentic learning materials for their children.
The impact of the mothers’ involvement is particularly important, as mothers who may initially be uncomfortable begin to feel a sense of belonging in the classroom, and are active participants in their children’s education. In developing literacy resources for their children, the mothers themselves are able to improve their own literacy skills.
Both boys and girls attend the Sparks Academies; fathers and mothers actively participate in the classrooms and in supporting the program. We believe strongly that education should not be the domain of one gender or another, but rather, that the surest way of helping a society to flourish is to develop a population of educated men and women who can lead the way.