Hundreds of billions were spent on an Afghan Army, Air Force, and Police that will disintegrate without U.S. support. Renewable energy was another money pit. And still there were all those wasted driving lessons. Yet someone thought that spending hundreds of millions on literacy would teach grown men to read in a country that doesn’t have a unified language or culture.
The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported the failure of the literacy program in their most recent report. Since 2008, SIGAR has been swooping in like a vulture to investigate the use of “relief funding” in Afghanistan and recording their findings in reports that had less readership than the Dari version of Bill Press’s last book.
For anyone with half a brain, it is no surprise that After $200 Million, Afghan Soldiers Still Can’t Read. Given that success in Afghanistan has been linked to literacy (see pp. 54-55 of DoD’s 2012 Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan) this does not bode well.
But there is hope. On the eve of our surrender, SIGAR recommends:
- Establishing program goals that are reasonable given the time frames involved and ensure that progress toward achieving these goals is measurable.
- Revising the acquisition approach to include requirements for verification of students’ language capabilities and tracking of literacy levels.
- Limiting, to the extent practicable, the number of classes offered at training locations that cannot be inspected.
- Enhancing oversight of the new quality assurance contractor’s performance.
- Modifying the contracts to better define requirements for classes.
- Developing and implementing—by April 30, 2014—a formal transition and sustainment strategy for the literacy training program.
What couldn’t be done in several years will surely be completed now that SIGAR has identified the problem. If only someone would (or could) read the report.
Hat tip: Bob Roughsedge