Some burned records, many quit as Taliban erase decades of educators' hard work
Some burnt records to save their girl students, others pledged to risk their lives in the fight for girl’s education, for Afghanistan‘s educators, Teachers’ Day 2021 will forever be etched in history as the year they lost their hard-earned struggle to give a better future to the children of the war-ravaged nation which will now be governed by the Taliban.
In the wake of the Taliban gaining control of Afghanistan, educators from the war-torn country feel dejected and dismayed as they witnessed the rights of their students being taken away with each passing day.
“As the founder of the only all-girls boarding school in Afghanistan, I’m burning my students’ records not to erase them, but to protect them and their families. I’m making this statement to mainly reassure the families of our students whose records we burned and our supporters of our safety,” Shabana Basij-Rasikh, founder of the School of Leadership Afghanistan, said in a tweet on August 20.
Shabana Basij-Rasikh who was one of the first young women who was invited to take a placement test for enrolment in public schools after the Taliban lost control in 2002 is fearful of the imposition of the sharia law which severely curtails the freedom of women.
However, even amidst adversities, the ongoing situation has not dimmed her zeal for education and improving the lives of Afghan girls. In her tweet, she says, “The fire in me to invest in the education of Afghan girls who have no way outgrows brighter, stronger, and louder… The time to appropriately express my gratitude will come. But right now there are many who aren’t or increasingly don’t feel safe. I’m broken and devastated for them,”.
The dreams of the country’s youth who were looking forward to taking up teaching as a profession have also been to the ground as they now stare into a bleak future.
“I came to India for higher education with the dream of contributing to the development of my country. After completing my MCA this month, I planned to return to Afghanistan and become a teacher to create a better future for the younger generation. But everything changed within days. Now, I don’t even know if our children will be allowed to go to school,” a young man who was working as a lecturer in Afghanistan before coming to India on scholarship told The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, a teacher who works at a non-government organization that has opened more than 100 schools in 13 backward provinces of Afghanistan told The Telegraph UK that she is proud of her work and will continue to work towards women’s education even if it costs her life.
In an interview with Time, Pashtana Durrani, a 23- year-old teacher who has been fiercely advocating for girls’ education since the group started making advances in Afghanistan said she knows that she is on the Taliban’s radar but despite being told that she is not safe, Durrani is staying put.
“I didn’t leave because I just felt like it’s my responsibility to do right by my people,” she says. “This is not just about me. This is about the girls of Afghanistan.”
Even as the Taliban imposes new law banning co-education and ruling that female students should only be taught by female teachers, the teachers have pledged to never lose courage even if they are barred from education in the near future.
Under the Taliban’s Sharia Law, women are allowed to avail of education but not in a regular school, college, or madrasas, where boys or men to study neither, are they allowed to interact with boys over 12 or men who are not family.
During their previous regime, women in Afghanistan were sentenced to public humiliation, flogging, and stoning to death for failure to observe any provisions under the Sharia law.