Back to Speeches

Ambassador Jawad joins President Bush to Address Afghanistan’s Literacy and Education


(March 19, 2010) Dallas, TX

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States Said Jawad joined President and Mrs. George W. Bush at the Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University (SMU) Thursday and Friday to speak on championing literacy and education in Afghanistan. The two day conference was held in partnership with the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council and the SMU Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, formally called “Educating and Empowering the Women and Girls of Afghanistan: A Conference on Education and Literacy.” The event, which focused on the status of education and literacy, as well as the plight of women in Afghanistan, brought together a range of experts to speak, including President and Mrs. Bush.

“We are working to realize our shared vision of building a pluralistic and civil society in a constitutional state that guarantees the security and civil liberties of all men, women and children and contribute to regional stability and world security,” Ambassador Jawad said. He told 300 experts on education, government, social enterprise and philanthropy from around the globe, “The full potential of Afghan women, as dynamic agents of social change, still remains untapped due to insecurity and cultural impediments.”

As a solution the ambassador said, “[W]e need to further invest in education and economic empowerment. . . . We are implementing a new literacy curriculum designed by UNESCO, as female literacy is still at 20% countrywide and only 10% in rural areas.” Despite lower than preferred statistics, advancements in education and literacy have been made according to the ambassador. He credited many of those achievements to the leadership of the former president and Mrs. Bush.

In his opening remarks, President Bush said, “I wanted to stay involved in policy, and I wanted to do it in a way that would not only encourage thought but encourage action.” He continued saying, "I really am serious about sending the signal that this institute will be based on principle, not politics. I want our actions to be transformative.”

Ambassador Jawad, who considers the former president a friend, says his actions have been transformative. “It’s an honor for Afghanistan to have the care and support of the Bushes. They have done a great deal to advance the cause of freedom, and they are truly caring individuals who understand how education will, ultimately, empower the people of Afghanistan.” The ambassador, along with his wife Shamim, who also contributed to the conference, attended a private dinner on the eve of the conference, at the residence of President and Mrs. Bush.

“President and Mrs. Bush have never stopped caring about the people of Afghanistan, and we are humbled by their assistance,” Jawad said. In his remarks, the ambassador said, “We will not forget that upon your arrival to Washington you devoted your historic radio address of 2001 to the Afghan women, and Afghan women were the prime focus of your exit interviews when you left Washington. You continue to support us from Texas. Afghan women admire and love you,” he said conveying deep appreciation to both the former First Lady and President Bush.

Ambassador Jawad also spoke of programs which partner literacy with development, saying women in particular, have benefited from combining education with practical skills.

“New women business leader are emerging, and Afghan women NGO’s are receiving global respect and recognition. Through the National Solidarity Program, more than 22,000 Afghan women are actively participating in more than 10,000 community development councils to design and implement grants from the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation,” he said.

Her Excellency Irina Gueorguieva Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO as well as The Honorable Melanne Verveer, Co-Chair, U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council Ambassador-at-Large addressed the conference. The Honorable Paula Dobriansky Vice President and Head of Government Affairs (Americas), Thomson Reuters, also spoke. A common theme throughout all the speeches was the general state of fragility and many challenges facing the education system of Afghanistan.

Dr. Phyllis Magrab, Vice-Chair, US to the Afghan Women’s Council and Director, Center for Child and Human Development at Georgetown University delivered remarks, prior to heading up a panel on Primary and Secondary Education.

Mrs. Jawad, Founder and President of the Ayenda Foundation, along with Julia Bolz, Founder of the American Friendship Foundation, both contributed prepared remarks and discussion. Dozens of other education and Afghan experts also participated

For in-depth information, including presentations from all the speakers, and additional details on the state of literacy and education in Afghanistan, as well as details on how you can help, please visit:
http://georgewbushinstitute.com/a-conference-dedicated-to-an-idea-in-action-bringing-literacy-and-empowerment-to-the-women-and-girls-of-afghanistan/

The Bush Library and Museum will include more than 60 million pages of documents, almost 100 terabytes of electronic information (including 175 million plus emails), more than 42,000 artifacts, and an audiovisual collection that includes over 4 million photographs. The library and museum which is now in a temporary building will also house the Freedom Archives, materials from dissidents from all over the globe.

The legacy of each President of the United States is collected and maintained in a library erected to memorialize the history of that individual’s life and service while in office.