(MENAFN- Khaama Press)
Afghan girls have endured significant education discrimination due to the Taliban's formal ban on secondary education, with orders for re-opening schools to only boys, while ordering girl students to remain at home for over a year.
September 18 marked the first anniversary of girls' education deprivation, one of the Taliban's hard-line policies seen as“shameful” and“tragic” by the United Nations (UN), affecting millions of young Afghan girls.
The political unrest in Afghanistan resulted in the dissolution of some youth movements, but others, like the Afghan Youth Empowerment Camp (AYEC), a youth-led organization with the mission of enhancing youth capacity, particularly that of women and girls, took on the task of keeping the learning wheel turning.
AYEC established an online English language program, English for Afghan Women (E4AW), utilizing innovative distance-learning approaches for Afghan girls and women who had to endure isolation and closed schools. Since English proficiency is the main objective of the program, from elementary to intermediate levels, it allows 100s of female students to learn English remotely.
Samina Razmjo, 18, is one of the many girls who have been denied the opportunity to attend school, but she is one of the students who do not see this as a barrier to learning as she attends AYEC.
Samina explained to Khaama Press how her life as an Afghan girl and a student has changed as a result of the Taliban takeover.“While going to school has become a distant dream for us, I am appreciative of AYEC for offering us online English classes where we study, make friends, communicate, and have fun for an hour,” Ramzjo added.
With a focus on sustainable development goals (SDGs), project management, and extracurricular activities, AYEC has developed several youth empowerment programs, including youth empowerment camps, training, workshops, and motivational programs both in-person and online.
Group photo of the organizing team and participants at the youth empowerment Camp held by AYEC in October 2020
Firoz Sidiqy, Mehdia Sadat, and Nawid Soofizada founded the non-governmental, charitable organization AYEC in 2019 with the goal of strengthening Afghan youth. Here are the messages of each of the AYEC co-founders given below:
Co-founders of Afghan Youth Empowerment Camps (AYEC)
Even while distance learning happens, with a strong will and dedication, a variety of challenges put these youth-led, life-saving projects in jeopardy of ceasing to exist, mainly financial impediments.
Organizations that used to assist such initiatives have closed since the Taliban took control of the Afghan government; those that remain are now solely managed on a volunteer basis and without outside funding, while poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan are at record highs.
Afghanistan is the only country on earth that bans the education of half of its population in secondary schools due to the Taliban's edict regarding girls' schools. This, together with other draconian measures of the Taliban against Afghan women, contributes to the precarious economic situation, already-rocketed poverty, and isolation of Afghanistan.
A UN report says that due to the Taliban's failure to fulfill various promises to allow girls to return to school, over a million Afghan girls—mostly between the ages of 12 and 18—have been denied access to education.
The fate of a young generation of girls remains uncertain for over a year despite the calls from the international community on the Taliban to re-open schools for girls. Not even girl students' protest helped their return to a classroom, a dream shared by all Afghan girls. Instead, the protestor students were scattered by aerial shootings of the gun-wielding Taliban fighters.
The international community has even made the reopening of school gates one of the prerequisites for the Taliban's international recognition. At the same time, the message of the Afghan youth is clear, and that is that education must continue.
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