Afghanistan’s community schools offer hope in remote impoverished areas

A community school operating in the open. (Photo courtesy: Ahmad Seiar/UNICEF)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Afghanistan’s community schools offer hope in remote impoverished areas

KABUL: The revival of education for girls in remote areas of Afghanistan, particularly as they were once barred from schooling by the Taliban regime, is a success story not only for the country, but for the world.
Conservative Afghan families were often unwilling to allow their daughters to leave the house to go to school, especially when that could involve a journey of many miles. So the Afghan Ministry of Education, along with UNICEF and other donors — who pay the teachers’ salaries and cover other expenses — created the “We Bring Schools to Your Homes” initiative for remote areas where there were no government-operated schools available.
“When you hold classes in people’s homes in a village, then there are no obstacles for people to send their girls [to school] and no excuse for others to block girls from acquiring education,” Kabir Akmal of the Afghan education ministry told Arab News.
Some villagers have set up makeshift classrooms in open areas, under trees, in small rooms in their homes, and even in mosques, to provide education to girls within their own village, Akmal added.
Last year, he said, 6,985 community-run classrooms were operating in 30 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. This year — Afghanistan’s academic year begins in March — that number will increase to 8,000, Akmal claimed.
“That is all because of the interest and eagerness of people who want to learn,” he said.
The teachers in these community-based classrooms receive higher salaries than those in official government schools, Akmal claimed. He added that their priority is to educate girls, as boys face few, or no, restrictions on travel.
“Community support has been critical to the success of community-based education, especially in conflict-affected areas,” Feridoon Aryan, a public affairs official in Kabul, told Arab News.
An estimated 3.5 million children, 75 percent of whom are girls, remain out-of-school in Afghanistan, Aryan said.
He added that a nationwide lack of infrastructure, educational materials and qualified female teachers are among the chief obstacles to improving school attendance and learning outcomes, but added that community-based education offered hope for the future.
“Recognizing the value of education, communities themselves provide locations for education centers — for example in homes or mosques — promote education and school attendance, especially for girls, and provide appropriate and safe spaces for learning,” he said.


Taliban say no peace with ‘occupation,’ want US talks

Updated 16 min 35 sec ago
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Taliban say no peace with ‘occupation,’ want US talks

  • The Taliban have always said the war can only end through direct talks with the US
  • Thousands of people - military and civilian - have been killed since the war began

KABUL, Afghanistan: The leader of the Taliban says there will be no peace in Afghanistan as long as the foreign “occupation” continues, reiterating the group’s position that the 17-year war can only be brought to an end through direct talks with the United States.
In a message released Saturday in honor of the Eid Al-Adha holiday, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah says the group remains committed to “Islamic goals,” the sovereignty of Afghanistan and ending the war.
The Taliban have had a major resurgence in recent years, seizing districts across the country and regularly carrying out large-scale attacks.
From 1996 until 2001, the Taliban ruled in accordance with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Women were barred from education and largely confined to their homes, and the country hosted Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.