Education for marginalized girls in Afghanistan is an opportunity that is often missed out on due to the government’s discouragement of women’s participation in public life. Particularly in rural communities, as women experience fear over who will marry them if they are not living up to the ideals of a woman, the pressure to conform to the traditional expectations of being a woman in society is held in high regard. A consequence of this is that marginalized girls in Afghanistan are more likely to drop out of school or never attend in the first place.
The Mission To Improve Education
In 2012, the U.K. government established a commitment to improving young girls’ lives around the world through education. These projects are funded by U.K. Aid and reach out to the most marginalized communities across the globe, including rural communities in Afghanistan.
One of these projects, set to finish in September of 2023, is called Steps Towards Girls’ Education Success (STAGES). Across 16 provinces in Afghanistan, in 1078 communities, the STAGES project has supported 24,830 marginalized girls as U.K. Aid aimed to improve education for marginalized girls in Afghanistan through community-based classes.
The Success of STAGES
The project has succeeded so far in establishing 1,411 community-based classes in Afghanistan. To improve the quality of education as a whole and ensure that girls continue their education, U.K. Aid has implemented several elements to the project. One significant element of this is mentorship. The program has built an environment where confident, more assertive students take part in activities while supporting more timid, weaker students. This mentorship is encouraged during extra-curricular activities such as creative writing and debating.
A 2017 report on the success of STAGES in its first five years found that while this helped improve the self-esteem and attendance of the weaker students, the program also developed valuable leadership skills in the mentors.
In extension to this, the STAGES project has given out grants to young girls from marginalized communities to have the opportunity to train to be a teacher by attending Teacher Training Colleges. So far, this has helped 1,995 young women enter teacher apprenticeship programs.
To continue education of high quality, the project ensures teachers are well trained and have implemented regular in-school teacher training lessons. The teaching practices promoted in these training sessions focus on how education must be accessible and inclusive to everyone, despite gender or disability.
In addition to community-based classes, the STAGES project has supported 587 government schools in terms of improving academic facilities and school infrastructure.
So far, STAGES has seen great success in improving and sustaining education for marginalized girls in Afghanistan. STAGES will continue to fight for better education until September 2023 with these three goals in mind:
- Support 5145 more students to complete their lower primary education (up to grade 6).
- Continue the maintenance of 235 educational facilities. This will be carried out through monitoring in classes and establishing school management councils.
- Undertake professional development for 358 teachers.
The denial of women’s access to education in Afghanistan is still prevalent in many communities, but projects such as STAGES make the fight a little less daunting for young women who want to go to school. Projects like this are a key component to the improvement of education for marginalized girls in Afghanistan and thus, the improvement of the prospects of Afghanistan.
– Poppy Harris