A poignant piece that highlights the importance of educating Afghan girls from both a moral and economic standpoint…
A Story About the Importance of Educating Afghan Girls in Afghanistan and… New York?
By MELISSA BANIGAN / Shared from The Huffington Post
Although Naheed Bahram’s working-class, conservative parents weren’t formally educated, they believed in educating their children. Naheed remembers that her mother, who was killed by a bomb explosion when her daughter was only nine years old, had attended parent teacher conferences and been vocal about her children going to school. It was certainly not the norm for a mother in Afghan society to to be so involved in a daughter’s education, and it would have a huge impact on Naheed’s life.
It was certainly not the norm for a mother in Afghan society to to be so involved in a daughter’s education, and it would have a huge impact on Naheed’s life.
Soon after her mother died in a bomb attack, and just a day after bombs blew up around her home, killing a neighbor, Naheed’s family moved to Peshawar, Pakistan, where she and her many siblings attended a school for refugees. Her father came up with the tuition for each of his children – no easy task, especially in a country where education is the exception, not the rule. In open-air schoolhouses beneath thin, aluminum roofs, Naheed, happy to be a student, felt impervious to the heat that sometimes reached 45 degrees celsius.
Upon graduating from high school, she continued her studies in post-secondary medical program. After just two years, the Taliban, which had grown in power and reach, closed the program — Naheed remembers this as being one of the worst days of her life. Although the school reopened and she returned, the doors were soon closed again. This time, disappointed rather than heartbroken, Naheed weighed her options and took a position as an ESL teacher at a grammar school.
Article 13 of the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights declares: “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means.” In Afghanistan, however, and areas of Pakistan such as where Naheed lived as a refugee in Peshawar, girls and women are routinely denied education, which has led to a degradation of society. Although Pakistan is said to be a rapidly developing country, it is without reliable electric power, which will make it difficult lift its economic growth above a 2.9% five-year average. And in Afghanistan, one of the least developed countries in the world according to the Human Development Index, a person might be hard-pressed to see any positive growth. The country is among the lowest in terms of food security — research has, in recent years, shown that this issue is integrally connected to the lack of educational opportunities for girls…”