The School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) is an Afghan-led, private boarding school for girls in grades 6-9, the first of its kind in Afghanistan. Our mission is to prepare girls to become the confident women who will lead their nation to a peaceful, prosperous future. We welcome our incoming class of 17 6th grade students to our Kabul campus in March. This project will provide our new students with the academic and personal support they need to thrive throughout the upcoming school year.
The illiteracy rate among Afghan adolescent girls is a staggering 63%, nearly double the rate for boys. More than 40% of Afghan schools (disproportionately girls') lack buildings, water or toilets. Afghanistan's female teaching force is largely underqualified, and many families ban daughters from being educated by men. Poverty and traditional family practices leave many Afghan girls vulnerable: the child marriage rate remains high at 35%.
SOLA's 80 students hail from 23 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces and receive a rigorous education that promotes critical thinking, a sense of purpose and respect for self and others. SOLA's teacher training program, supported remotely by experienced mentors, offers students an Afghan faculty who provide 24/7 guidance and supervision. Enrolling at SOLA removes the immediate pressures of marriage, and SOLA's curriculum is specifically designed to foster a sense of agency in our young women.
SOLA intends to grow to become an internationally recognized boarding school of 175 students in grades 6-12, representing all 34 provinces of Afghanistan by 2022. Our focused and intentional leadership curriculum prepares students to address many of the issues that act as barriers to women's visibility in Afghanistan, while simultaneously making female leadership a norm instead of a rarity.