Teachers Risk All Leading Secret Schools for Girls in Afghanistan

Apr 4, 2023

By the Numbers: Educating Girls

Thought Question: What do you hope to get out of your education?

For more than 600 Afghan girls and women, learning is worth the risk of beatings, arrest, or even worse in a society that treats them like chattel. Some are teenagers attending secret schools in homes. Others take online college classes. 

“The fall of Kabul was not an easy thing for (this) young generation especially, who were educated and (had) dreams,” the 25-year-old founder of these schools told ABC News. "It was all vanished."

The founder, Parasto, goes only by her first name. She wants to help rebuild these dreams through her nonprofit called SRAK (which means "first ray of morning light" in Pashto). The Taliban, which returned to power in 2021, crushed many of them. It brought back harsh restrictions on girls and women. Women were banned from going to school past the sixth grade.

Parasto and her teachers understand the risks they're taking. Last week, a girls' education advocate was arrested in Kabul. No one knows where he is.

“When I come here, I do have fears,” one teacher told ABC. “I feel like if I bow down before my fears, I would believe I am dead.”

In the secret classrooms, girls huddle in front of a teacher scribbling on a whiteboard about subjects ranging from chemistry to history. They meet for only a few hours a day so they are not found. Older students with good internet attend classes for subjects including computer science. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, some students are daughters of Taliban officials. 

Parasto said her teachers “have been a little bit successful in bringing back the shine in the eye of students here.” 

Said one 16-year-old student, “I wish I could come earlier (in the day). It makes me happy.”  

Based on the information in the infographic, readers can conclude that women who attend school for longer _______. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. make less money
b. make more money
c. never get married
d. never have children
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