One of the building blocks of a civil society is education. Nowhere is the need for learning greater than in Afghanistan, where women and girls were excluded from the classroom. Years of conflict in Afghanistan led to the destruction of many buildings, including schools. But with help from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. military, organized education is returning to Afghanistan.
This month, the Sultan Razia Girls’ school was completed in Mazar-i-Sharif. Over five-thousand girls will be taught there by one-hundred twenty teachers. During the opening-day ceremony, one twenty-one-year-old student said, “I want to become a lawyer because I want to bring justice and freedom to Afghanistan. . .especially for women.” One of the instructors added, “To teach makes me feel like I am helping Afghanistan. I couldn’t fight before, but I can help make Afghanistan better.”
In Herat, the Adraskan School was recently re-opened. With a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, a sixteen-room addition was added to the existing school. Like most other schools during the Taleban regime, it had only male students. Now, the school will have over eight-hundred fifty students of all ages, and thirty-five percent will be girls.
Under the repressive Taleban regime, most women and girls were not allowed to work or attend school. Roughly half the Afghan population was prohibited from contributing to the Afghan economy or participating in Afghan society. Women were forced to cover themselves in the all-enveloping burqa. High-heeled shoes, makeup, and nail polish were prohibited. Women who violated the rules were beaten.
With the ouster of the Taleban regime, Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild not only its infrastructure and economy, but its entire society. Women and girls again have the opportunity to receive an education, get jobs and contribute to the growth of the country.