Literacy in an Extended Family Household in Kabul: A Case Study

Lauryn Oates


The following case study is drawn from a Pashtun family of 31 people living together in a house in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, and was collaboratively researched with a member of the household. Afghanistan has one of the world’s lowest literacy rates, at 28.1 % literacy (UNICEF, 2004). Finding a way to take into consideration “the symbolic and material transactions of the everyday provide the basis for rethinking how people give meaning and ethical substance to their experiences and voices” (Giroux and Simon, 1989), rings true in the context of Afghanistan, where an ambitious agenda for raising access to
education and literacy must find roots in the existing culture, coping mechanisms used by families, and the limited literacy and learning resources to which they have access. The issues brought to light in this case study suggest that validating Afghanistan’s literary traditions holds potential for empowering new learners, tapping into literacy practices supported by family networks.


literacy; Afghanistan; family networks; literary traditions

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