10th grader Sweeta
Although Afghan girls have the right to go to school, in many conservative regions of the country, parents insist that girls and young women belong in the home; not in the classroom. Oftentimes, it takes a caring and courageous teacher to gently educate parents about the value of school for their daughters. Such was the case of Sweeta and her parents.
Sweeta was a 10th grader at Maslakee High School in the province of Samangan, one of several thousand girls who attend our schools in the area and her story is not uncommon. Sweeta comes from a family of 12 whose parents are illiterate and had little respect for the education of girls.
When the new school year began last March in 2010, Sweeta was especially excited after enrolling in HTAC's programs. She enjoyed listening and learning from her teacher and interacting with other female classmates. She immediately took an interest in our computer program and even began dreaming about one day teaching computer classes for children at her school so she could earn money to assist her poor family.
Not long after classes began, Sweeta's father pulled her out of school so that she could help her mother care for her younger siblings. Sweeta was devasted and to make matter worse, her mother (not knowing any better), constantly scolded and used aggressive behavior in disciplining Sweeta and her other children.
Sweeta's high school teacher heard of Sweeta's misfortune. Recalling the girl's enthusiasm for learning, she decided to invite her parents to school, welcoming them with cups of milk and biscuits. The teacher told the parents how enthusiastic their daughter had been, attending classes and especially wanting to learn the computer. She told them that one of Sweeta's goals was to graduate and earn a living teaching computer classes so she could help our her family, economically.
The parents were so impressed with the teacher and her positive messages of Sweeta that they promised they would allow their daughter to return to school. By the Fall of 2010, after seeing Sweeta's transformation in helping around the house, her caring for her younger siblings- after coming home from school, and her positive attitude, her parents return to the school for a visit. With beaming faces, they told the teacher they had learned through their daughter that it was indeed important for girls to attend school.
Update- Sweeta's parents have since encouraged several of their neighbors to allow their daughters to attend school later this Spring, 2011.