Lack of Access to Education; Young Volunteers Establish a Free School in Kabul

A group of young volunteers established a free school for over 300 illiterate children. The administrators of this educational institution state that they enrol boys and girls in areas where there are no schools and provide Afghan children with two years of education, despite the fact that this school was established in an open area without infrastructure. These young volunteers assert that free schools must be established in several other provinces around Afghanistan. Furthermore, these young people have initiated an awareness campaign for families in remote areas of the capital and certain provinces, in addition to providing education. A number of the children at this school, however, advocate for the opening of secondary schools for Afghan girls.

In December 2022, Wazir Khan and twenty other young people, including female volunteers, founded a free school calledToday‘s Child in the Butkhak neighborhood of Kabul‘s outlying neighborhoods. According to Wazir Khan, the goal of this effort is to educate children who are otherwise excluded from education. He told HashteSubh,We launched our activities in Kabul‘s Bathak neighborhood. There was no public or private school in the area, which prevented the local children from attending school.”

Khan has reported that this school has accepted more than 300 students of all ages who will attend for two years and receive instruction in five departments. He further stated that the students, who are all female and aged between 5 and 17, are taught on a voluntary basis three days and two hours a week in the five topics of the school, namely Pashto, English, Sirat alNabi, Painting, and Speaking. Upon completion of the twoyear program, the students are prepared to enter public schools. Khan believes that the books suggested for children in the first grade of public schools are too challenging, and even after graduation, they are unable to read anything properly.

Despite the lack of desks and chairs and the outdoor setting, the school in Kabul‘s Batkhak neighborhood, founded by young volunteers, is attended by many enthusiastic and interested children even in the colder months. Wazir Khan, the founder of this school, has called upon those of good character and groups involved in education to provide more facilities, a school building, and teaching materials for the children. He has also stated that in the near future, some young volunteers will open other free schools in various isolated regions of the country‘s provinces.

In addition to providing education, these young people have initiated a campaign to raise awareness among families living in rural areas of several provinces and Kabul. Wazir Khan explains:We are working in two areas; the first is the establishment of a school, and the second is the awareness campaign. In the doortodoor campaign, our staff visits the most remote areas of Kabul to discuss lessons and education, as well as how to prevent drug use and safeguard their rights and health.” They are working voluntarily and honestly, as the young volunteers explain, and are not receiving financial support from any individual or organization.

Some students ofToday‘s Child have also called for the reopening of public schools for girls, expressing their joy at the establishment of this institution. Soraya, one of the pupils at this school, spoke to HashteSubh with a smile on her face, saying,I am incredibly pleased that I have been attending this school for two months now and that I am learning.” Abed, another student at this institution with a fractured face, is deeply engaged in his studies while sitting on a rock. He commented,We have many problems. Since there is no school nearby, we have to sit on the cold and snowy ground to study despite the lack of classrooms, desks, or chairs. We want a school to be built for us.”

Najibullah, is another child who wishes for the reopening of secondary school for Afghan girls.

The United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) has reported that at least 4.2 million children in Afghanistan are currently deprived of an education. In response, a number of young volunteers have started free schools. A UNICEF report released on December 9, 2022 states that 60% of the 4.2 million children who lack access to education are girls. UNECEF has also claimed to have helped 300,000 Afghan children this year and will need $1.65 billion for the following year. This fund further states that Afghanistan is currently experiencing one of the world‘s worst humanitarian crises due to longterm violence and global warming.

Since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, girls have been prohibited from attending secondary and high schools, resulting in numerous negative internal and external consequences. Before this, the international community had repeatedly urged the Taliban to grant girls and women access to secondary and high schools as soon as possible and to cease denying them the right to employment and education. Nevertheless, the Taliban‘s officials maintain that the conditions are not yet suitable for girls to resume their education in schools across Afghanistan.