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Classroom Stories

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When Afsana’s parents pressured her to drop out, she found an ally in her favourite teacher

Teach for Afghanistan trains educators to intervene when girls are at risk of dropping out.
15-year-old Afsana always looks forward to Ms. Rawzia’s ninth grade class, especially when they get to play grammar games. Her favourite one goes something like this: Ms. Rawzia draws a big line down the middle of the chalkboard and chooses a student to stand next to each half. She calls out a theme. Whoever writes the best sentence before the timer goes off wins.
“We all try to win this game and write fast,” Afsana says.
But going to school wasn’t always so carefree. Last year, Afsana faced pressure from her family to drop out and end her education.
Ms. Rawzia remembers that Afsana started looking sad in class, which was unusual for one of her top students. A once bright and attentive girl, Afsana began spending most of her days staring out the classroom window. When Ms. Rawzia asked her what had changed, she replied, “My family says that in our village if a girl goes to high school, she will bring shame to my family.”
Afsana lives in a conservative community in Parwan province, a mountainous region in Afghanistan north of Kabul, where families often believe girls do not need to go to school. Her situation was common — and Ms. Rawzia knew how to help.
As a Teach for Afghanistan (TAO) fellow, Ms. Rawzia learned how to identify students at risk of dropping out of school and convince their families to see the value in continuing their daughter’s education.
There are 3.5 million out-of-school children in Afghanistan — 85% are girls. A shortage of teachers and resources already makes it difficult for Afghan girls to enrol in school. For girls like Afsana, staying in school can also be a challenge, especially when parents demand they get married or stay at home. That’s why Malala Fund supports TAO’s work to recruit female teachers and equip them with the skills to dismantle long-held cultural beliefs that prevent Afghan girls from reaching their full potential.

“The trainings make me a better teacher because now I can understand my students better…It helps us to understand our students’ problems and find a solution for them,” Ms. Rawzia says.
After speaking with Afsana and learning about her family, Ms. Rawzia invited her parents to the school so she could reason with them. She told them a story she hoped would change their minds:
She had two neighbours, Shogofa and Lila, who loved to study, until Shogofa’s family decided she had reached the age where she didn’t need to learn anymore. Meanwhile, Lila’s family let her continue studying and she eventually became a doctor. One day, Shogofa’s father got sick but he did not know when to take his medicine. So Shogofa called Lila to help her father. He said to Lila, “It was my fault. If I let my daughter study, she could help me now and I would be proud of her.”
After their conversation, Ms. Rawzia took Afsana’s parents to her classroom to watch as the school’s principal presented Afsana with an appreciation award. She wanted them to see their daughter’s talent and potential.
Ms. Rawzia’s plan worked and Afsana’s parents allowed her to continue her studies.
Now Afsana is back to being her smart, eager self — and dominating the competition in Ms. Rawzia’s grammar games. “I’m really happy and thankful for my kind teacher…she changed my life path,” Afsana says. “I aim to become a famous journalist and help my country and all girls.”

The school’s Path is full of Mine Dangers

Teacher Aqla is one of the Fellows of Teach for Afghanistan organization (TAO), busy servicing the country’s children in a school away from the roads and cities. She was introduced to a school located on the slopes of the mountain far from the city. When she went to that school and observed it closely, she faced many problems. The walkway to the area where the Lakar School is located passes through the slopes of the mountain and has windings. It is worth mentioning that the path from the house to the Lakar School is full of unexploded ordnance too.

While teaching, she noticed the problems that prevented students from attending the school, and wrote the following:Students pass through the mountain peaks to reach the school, their parents worry till the students return home from school, that being the reason, some parents don’t even allow their children to attend school. I shared this problem with the staff of the Teach for Afghanistan organization. With their ideas and advice, I was able to solve this problem as much as possible by setting up seminars on mines and minefields. Having posted posters and guidelines on the walls about mines and high-risk areas, my colleagues showed the area to them from up close and provided the necessary information. The students were then able to become somewhat aware of this; now, they come to school with interest and without fear. Their families too have peace of mind and calmness.

International Girl Day

On #InternationalGirlDay, we as Teach for Afghanistan team, our vision is to work for quality education, girl empowerment and to decrease girls’ drop out from schools. Our fellows are doing their best to appraise this vision.

Ms.Shabana Sakhizada, a fellow of Teach for Afghanistan Organization who is teaching in Lakar school explained; how she faced a big challenge during her fellowship journey. Lakar is a school that besides its other problems like Lack of classrooms, chairs, boards and its location. Their female students face one crucial problem that their parents are not allowing them to go to school. Ms.Shabana said, “one day I saw my student near to the school as she was really sad and depressed; when I asked her why you are not coming to school and why did you leave school? Shabna answered that I want to come to school and I have the desire to serve my country through my knowledge and learnings to become a champion of peace and education for most Afghan girls and women. My family says that you are a girl and in our village if a girl goes to school they will count her as a shame and disrespectful family and girl so they drop me out of school. She added that I only allowed going to Madrasa. I become stressed and shocked that how a family is doing such cruel behavior with a talented girl who is having a great and good vision for herself and her country. I believe that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. I was not silent nor shouted but I went to her home and consulted with her family about her innovation, vision, powers, and talents and asked them to allow her to school. Besides, I aware of them about education values so they allowed her to school and now she is in 6th class. The Student said, “I was very sad and depressed but now my family becomes aware of my rights and they are proud of me. They committed to allow me to school and support me. I’m grateful to teacher Shabana she is a kind and caring teacher. She is like an angle for me who fulfill my dream and helped me to achieve my goals. Thanks to Teach for Afghanistan organization for sending us kind and excellent teachers. We want more teachers like teacher Shabana.

Muzghan Amine

Teach For Afghanistan’s Fellow opens a Library for girls in her school:
Muzghan Amine is a teacher with a vision that all children deserve a quality education, access to resources. She believes that before anyone else extends the helping hand one should be tried with the limited resources they have in hand.
Ms.Amine since joining the school, she realized that the school didn’t have a library neither it could receive any library soon with the limited school budget.
Ms.Amine asked TAO for support to instruct her on creating a library with no money in hand; our team supported her by making a plan and connecting her to our contact with the national library office in Kabul to share about their management of library and better usage.
After her consultation with us, she asked her friends, students, co-teachers, school management, and the villagers to help her with any book available with them so she can set a room for it to put the books in it and their children and all student take benefit by using this small library.
She receives around 100 books and with a group of young girls goes to school principal office and asks for a room to be used as library, a cupboard of principal office and then she and all her students clean the room from the dirt and dusts and then she put the books in there and invited all the school student to visit the small library.
Currently, the library is active with daily over 50-100 students visiting and reading books, and it shall remain for the use of the school and its students as long as the school stands.
Muzghan says, “I know these books are not new or updated but each book has something in it which will be useful for my students, even if it helps them in reading or writing it can be something that currently millions of children are deprived of”.




Teach For Afghanistan’s fellows are setting examples of volunteerism via patriotic love for their role models in Jalalabad city, reaching out to the public and helping the younger generation in understanding their history, culture, Pashto literature, influential Afghan leaders and heroes of the classic eras.

The fellows from Abdul Wakil High School voluntarily helped to paint the front wall of Directorate of Information and culture of Nangarhar Province with the images of Pashto language’s most classic and iconic personalities from poetry, philosophy and journalism fields, the photos were painted on front wall of the directory which is a public subway for daily commuting.

The aim behind these paintings is letting the youngsters knowing their heroes whose contribution to promoting Afghan culture was immunes, letting them know the leaders whose contribution was important in making this country an independent place for Afghans to live.

Our Fellow Azizulhaq says:

We want to apply the etiquette of helping voluntarily with our people in Nangarhar Province to let others know that not every work of us should have its price with money.


Letters of Appreciation

Teach For Afghanistan highly appreciate the teaching techniques of the fellows which had been very effective, and the student who wrote the letters had learned a lot in the subjects being taught by the fellows.???

Roma Sakandari

Roma Sakandari, a teacher who is passionate about her holy job of teaching and she believes that teaching is based on daily self-creativity and innovation. She says that like other remote areas of Parwan Province’s schools our school has the same situation. I believe that school is the place where parents are sending their children to receive a good education and the students should learn most of the life lessons.
Conversely, teaching is based on using post method and new methods with using materials. We!! The fellows of Teach For Afghanistan are using the new methods but still, there is a lack of materials to use for practical work in almost all of the subjects. I come up to the end that the teachers who were before us were teaching with traditional methods, which was not giving any profits to students.
I cannot tolerate this situation of teaching in my school. Besides that, in my classes, I considered that most of the lessons need practical work and students are not able to learn appropriately through reading and memorizing. Following the training that Teach For Afghanistan Organization has given to their fellows, I find out that if there are not real materials! We can use some related materials to use for practical work.
Therefore, I searched and find the materials that I could use to teach my students practically.
Teach For Afghanistan is proud to share one of Ms. Roma’s innovations, which is teaching how to make a water heater with simple materials.

Parwin Nasery

Parwin Nasery is a fellow of Teach For Afghanistan in Nangarhar Province, where she teaches computer and English subjects. Parwin is a bachelor of Arabic language and a diploma holder in both English and Information Technology (IT) but her love for art shows how inspiring she is, despite being a teacher of language, she started a movement of young girls to show love and respect to art. She is promoting her students with the potential to draw their imagination.Ms. Parwin started inspiring the students by fixing a simple showcase, a kind of noticeboard area on the corridor wall of their school and asking students to draw whatever they like. After that, the students are allowed to paste their drawings on the showcase to inspire other students. Teach For Afghanistan’s fellow is helping students to find their freedom of thoughts and imaginations. Parwin believes: Drawing means students are constantly thinking and feeling something, so what students choose to draw, the patterns they use, and the story they try to represent help them build in their knowledge and visual skills. Who knows?? one day a great artist, a great painter, or a great cartoonist will come out of this class? We believe that the first encouraging step is necessary to take.

In rural Afghanistan, this chemistry teacher is the solution to her school’s closed lab


Before Muzhgan arrived, the chemistry lab at the girls’ school in rural Bagram just sat gathering dust. With no qualified teachers, there wasn’t anyone to show students practical experiments. Muzhgan decided to change that.

Muzhgan is a Teach for Afghanistan fellow. With support from Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network, Teach for Afghanistan recruits and trains recent university graduates like Muzhgan to increase the number of female educators in the Afghan public system.

For Muzhgan’s first experiment, she demonstrated the chemical reaction of saponification by teaching her students to make soap. The experiment was a hit. Students loved working with the ingredients and seeing the chemical changes occur in front of their eyes.

I spoke with Muzhgan to discuss the importance of experiential learning, why Afghanistan needs more female teachers and her work to convince parents to let their daughters go to school.

Tess (T): What inspired you to become a chemistry teacher? 

Muzhgan (M): When I was at school, I was a good student in chemistry. I would force my teacher to do experiments for our class. I desperately loved this subject and wanted to contribute something in this field — maybe become a scholar to work in the university. When I saw the shortage of chemistry teachers, I decided to become a teacher.

T: Tell us about reopening the chemistry lab at your school.

Muzhgan conducting a chemistry experiment with her students. (Courtesy of Teach for Afghanistan)

M: The laboratory was closed before I came to this school because there wasn’t a professional chemistry teacher. Other teachers could not even explain the subject well from the textbook, so doing experiments was impossible.

I opened the laboratory to perform practical experiments because they form the foundation of learning scientific subjects. Understanding without practice is tough, so I decided to take on this initiative and activate the laboratory of this school.

The laboratory does not have all materials for the experiments and it is very often hard to access the required materials. I have to search and sometimes buy it myself from bazar, but it is worth it because practical experiments make it easy for students to learn.

T: How did your principal respond to the success of the reopened laboratory?

M: When we [Teach for Afghanistan teachers] introduced this, the principal said our mere existence in that school is a great blessing for them. Because of our presence, students’ attendance increased and they are enjoying their classes.

Additionally, our students can now do experiments even though the school is in a remote area. Due to the lack of competent teachers, even schools in the heart of the city in this province can’t do that.

“As a teacher, I aim not only to teach chemistry but to also transform girls’ mindsets. I motivate them to work hard to change their families’ and communities’ mindsets about girls’ education.”


T: Why is it important for girls to have female teachers?

M: Students feel comfortable with female teachers because female teachers understand their struggles. We give the girls the chance to continue their education. When they have female teachers, families are trusting and do not stop girls from school. If the teachers are male, as soon as girls reached puberty, their families prevent them from going to school.

T: What other barriers do the girls you teach face to complete their secondary education?

M: Girls face numerous barriers to education, besides the lack of female teachers. One of the factors is the families’ lack of awareness. For instance, one of my students in grade 11 was stopped from coming to school by her family, because everybody stared at her on the way to school. I went to her parents and convinced them to let her continue her education. I told them to look at me. I come from very far away to teach your daughters. Upon my meeting with this student’s parents, they accepted that I was right and sent their daughter back to school.

There are dozens of students facing the same fate as this girl, which is why we need dozens of teachers like me to fight this situation and bring these girls back to school.

T: How did Teach for Afghanistan help to prepare you for this position? 

M: I learned chemistry at school and university, but I did not know how to teach it. Teach for Afghanistan provided me with the pedagogy and educational psychology training and taught me how to relate to the lives of the students. Teach for Afghanistan made me what I am today.

T: What do you find the most rewarding part of your job?

M: As a teacher, I aim not only to teach chemistry but to also transform girls’ mindsets. I motivate them to work hard to change their families’ and communities’ mindsets about girls’ education.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.