"I want to be a doctor and serve my country," says Zahra, who attends one of our 280 newly established community-based education classes in Afghanistan

Published: May 16, 2023 Reading time: 3 minutes
© Foto: Sohrab Rostayee

Zahra (10) was displaced from Kunduz to Kabul due to conflict five years ago. She lives in a rented house in the Afghan capital with her five brothers and one sister. Her father is a vendor in the city and supports 12 members of his family. Poverty has taken away Zahra's childhood. Instead of having a pen and a book, her innocent fingers dig through waste in search of plastic—this is life for thousands of children in Afghanistan. 

Zahra was looking for hope among the waste at dumps around the city—the only thing she could do for her family during the harsh winter. 

"My brothers and I collected plastic and fire materials from waste to heat our home. I was leaving home in the morning and returning home in the evening," says Zahra

Zahra's family cannot afford to pay their monthly rent of 4000 AFN ($45). "We do not have money to pay for rent. We borrow money from my uncle," says Zahra.

Remaining out of school due to poverty

Poverty deprived Zahra of school because her father could not afford school expenses. "I did not go to school because my father could not buy stationery, books, uniforms or school bags. I felt sad and disappointed seeing other children go to school, while I could not," she says.

With the support of the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF), we started Education in Emergency (EiE) project in Zahra's village to support children with access to education. "PIN staff came to our village and conducted a survey. After that, I enrolled in a Community-Based Education class," says Zahra.

Nowadays, Zahra is attending the Community-Based Education (CBE) class and enjoys the time with her classmates. "Before, I could not read and write. After enrolling in this class, I learned to read and write. I learned math and drawing skills. I made new friends. I feel happy," she says. Zahra spends most of her time at home. "I study and practice my lessons at home. Now, I do not collect plastics from the waste," she adds.

Despite Zahra's challenges, she is keen to go to school and plans for the future. "I love to go to school and continue my education because I want to become a doctor and serve my country," she says.  

280 newly established classes for 9,555 children

Since the beginning of 2022, People in Need, with funding from the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF), helped 9,555 previously out of school children (5,068 girls and 4,487 boys) enrol in 280 newly established CBE classes. The programme assisted children affected by conflict and natural disasters to pursue education in the 1st grade and supported them to enrol in public schools.

Within the programme, the teachers receive the salary. We also distributed classroom materials, learning and reading materials, textbooks and hygiene kits to the CBEs and equipped classes with fans and stoves to create a better environment for the children during different seasons of the year.

4.2 million children out of school

Afghanistan's education system has been demolished by three decades of war, and for many children, attending school remains a far-off dream, particularly in remote and rural areas. According to UNICEF reports, 4.2 million children were out of school during 2022, of whom 60 per cent were girls. In addition, poverty, natural disaster, lack of sufficient funds in the education sector and the current bans on girls' education deprived millions of children from school. 

Autor: Sohrab Rostayee, Afghanistan Communication Officer

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