Meet Razia, an Afghan returnee from Iran.
When returned refugees or internally displaced people like Razia come back to Afghanistan after time away, they are required to present sufficient documents and should be at a specific age to be admitted to traditional public school. Otherwise, they can attend literacy classes (aimed to provide basic reading and writing skills, which only reach grade three level) or night school.
After returning from Iran, Razia’s family resided in Kabul. She finally convinced her family to permit her to get an education. After getting her family's permission, she started her search to find a school she could attend. She said, “I submitted applications to several public schools, but each time my application was rejected, and I was told to get admission in literacy classes or night school. Both of the options were rejected by my family.”
Razia's family's rejection of these two options is not uncommon. Families typically don't allow female students to study at night, which involves travel to the center of the city at night, which is not considered appropriate. Many families also expect women and girls to spend the evenings cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children. Literacy classes, on the other hand, offer the bare minimum reading and writing skills, which aren't considered "enough" to leverage for higher income or to enter university. These such classes don't offer any sort of degree or certificate, so many families don't believe it's worth the effort.
While searching to find a school to fulfill her dream, Razia finally gained admission to Aid Afghanistan for Education's (AAE) school No.2 in Kabul. In this regard, she said, “I nearly lost hope, but suddenly one morning a miracle happened. A neighbor told me there is a school that allows you to get admission. I was amazed and surprised, and got the admission.”
Razia continued her studies in AAE’s school. She said, “The school environment was professional and best suited to my age. When I saw students of my age, I was always motivated and realized that there is no age restriction to get an education".
This year, Razia turned 28 years old and earned her high school diploma. She wants to be an active voice for Afghan women and girls by becoming a journalist. She will begin studying journalism this summer at one of the prestigious universities in Kabul.
Stories like Razia’s inspire me to continue working toward an Afghan society where every person, no matter their age, gender, refugee status, or otherwise, can access the education of their dreams and create a more peaceful country.
Thank you for all of your support for AAE, and have a very joyful holiday season and a happy new year! We hope that 2020 brings you peace, light, and joy.