CALGARY - A dozen Afghan women have graduated with business diplomas from SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary but will be unable to attend the graduation ceremony because of security concerns.

Instead, Ehsanullah Ehsan, director for the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre in Kandahar city, is to pick up the diplomas on their behalf Tuesday and present them to the women back home at a later date.

Afghanistan's adult literacy rate is among the lowest in the world and only 12.6 per cent of women can read, compared to 32.4 per cent of men.

Ehsan said the young women, between 20 and 30 years of age, decided not to travel to Calgary because of possible retaliation from extremists who do not believe women should be educated.

He said the graduates are already employed with international organizations such as the United Nations and are making an average of $800 per month - about eight times more than a member of the Afghan National Army.

Ehsan said another 20 students are expected to graduate next year.

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