Out of school for a decade: A refugee girl finally finds a school
PESHAWAR, 05 April 2017 – An Afghan girl had never been to school, but after years she found a ray of hope. Tahira Naz’s family and relatives did not want to send her to school due to cultural reasons. Now she feels overjoyed as her dream to become a doctor takes a step closer to being realised.
Born and raised in Pakistan, 14-year-old Tahira recently was enrolled into one of the home-based schools close to her house in the suburbs of Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa located at the north-west of Pakistan. Tahira studies at grade 4.
She never attended a formal school as it was far away from her home. Her father was reluctant to send her to school by herself as Tahira was living in an extended family system and her male cousin objected to it.
Under funding from the IKEA foundation, aside from supporting regular formal education programme, UNHCR initiated a non-formal learning programme under the home-based girls school arrangement in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The home-based girls’ school programme provides accessible opportunities for Afghan girls who would not otherwise be able to obtain an education, either because their parents prevented them or because public schools are too far away to be easily accessible.
Adolescent girls are able to access education within the home setting and at their convenience. In 2016, 899 adolescent girls were given admission in 30 home-based girls schools in the province. Some 30 female teachers received training in the non-formal accelerated curriculum used in the programme. In addition, all home-based girls schools are equipped with solar panels to ensure uninterrupted electricity.
“I am very happy that I am going to school like other kids,” said Tahira, who looks a bit bigger than her classmates but was clearly proud to be with them.
Her father works at a shop in a local market. The reluctance of her father has lessened and he is now encouraging her to complete her education.
Her two elders sisters acquired education years back when school was nearby their old home in the Kacha Ghari camp in Peshawar. One of her sisters married to a dentist in Nangarhar province in Afghanistan and is now assisting her husband in dentistry.
“I want to become a doctor,” she said. She is optimistic about the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan. Once she becomes a doctor she will serve in Afghanistan.
“It is heartening that Tahira has learnt to read and write in only one year,” said her teacher.
By Qaiser Khan Afridi in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.