Community schools could be a solution to illiteracy in rural areas of Afghanistan
By Pashtana Durrani-Most of the schools in the rural areas are shut down because of security risks or that they don’t have enough resources to run the school. Which leads to students not attending school, and that leads to stunted learning curve-children especially girls dropping out from schools. The children in the rural areas are mostly sent to madrassas to learn (community based learning, minimum resources needed to study and a fee that is affordable).The problem is not that people in rural areas don’t want their kids, to have formal educations, they are afraid their schools could or might get bombed, most of the schools are unable to accommodate number of children or girls most importantly and most of the schools are simply shut down because of no teachers or corruption or Taliban.
In other cases where we do have schools, we have no schools for girls. The available schools are always short on resources, including teachers. Now we may have a question in the back our minds why?
The whole world investing so much in education, and in Afghanistan. Why do we still stand here? The answer is very simple either the schools fall in areas that are Taliban controlled and its curfew the whole time. Or the schools are shut down by people who are part of the school administration and in charge to run schools (corruption and corruption).
Now the question here is why do I propose community schools. I was on a research assignment for the last 6 months in the rural areas of Kabul, the only thing that I found empowering and practical, was the community members sticking with each-other and working together. Be it a school problem, drought or water issues. Moreover teaching a child in one village of chil dukhtaran. I was actually told by women from Mangal community that the children were taught by women, who had little or average educational background, be it religious studies or just general knowledge or Pashto and Dari. The women in the family taught the children of the village.
Yes, community schools are not permanent solutions to our problems when it comes to Taliban controlled areas, corruption and poverty. But it could be one factor in saving us time, help us build resources across communities. The students in those villages cannot travel to schools in city, but the schools can travel to their villages and it doesn’t have to be a giant infrastructure. It has to be something that sides along with the quality education goal, builds the children curiosity and interest in the long term.
We might as well remember one thing, that these children won’t be getting schools any time soon. Because we barely can afford provision of quality education in the cities. Now is the time to present sustainable solutions to the problems that endangers our future. Be it in the refugee camps or the IDPs camps. Our children suffer and they cannot attend a school not everybody can afford one. On other hand we have girls with so much potential, but no specific solutions to address the issues that they face, be it acid attack, street harassment, the risky local transportation or the fee that they can’t afford or the societal and religious norms that make them limited to a certain geography.
If not addressed the problem of girls dropping from school and young boys dropping from schools will keep on increasing and will be creating two different faces of one nation. One in cities be it quality education or not still getting one, and then there are the rural areas where we will be looking at high number of illiterate and jobless generation, whose skills won’t be developed to go out in the job market and whose community won’t be developed to sustain themselves.
The solution to this could be when it comes to the rural areas is that we start with resource building and start with community based schools especially for girls and for women an accelerated learning classes. Yes the experiment has worked in Bamyan a peaceful place now is the time to take it to the conflict zones like Helmand or Nimroz where we actually are looking at higher number of children out of schools.
By Ahmad Shah Katawazai-U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, is once again in …