Education for girls: The key to Afghanistan's
By Shafiqullah Waak / March 3, 2009
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
One woman in the province of Nangarhar has
dedicated her life to teaching women in Afghanistan
and is following in the footsteps of a family
tradition of teachers.
"If we want Afghanistan to be a prosperous country
we should make sure Afghan women are fully engaged in
the development process of the country," said Zarghona,
53, who has worked as a teacher for 35 years. "A
country destroyed by decades of civil war will not
stand on its own feet if half of its population,
women, are inactive. Hence women and girls need to be
The adult female literacy rate in Afghanistan is
estimated to be 18 per cent.
Zarghona is just one Afghan woman who has dedicated
her life to educating Afghan girls. For her teaching
is a family business. Her father was a teacher at the
Kabul Military School and her husband is a University
Professor in Jalalabad, the provincial capital of the
eastern province of Nangarhar.
In her 35 years career, she has never stopped
teaching. Even during the Taliban regime when girls
were banned from attending school, she used to teach
"I was caught by the Taliban and beaten for
teaching girls," remembered Zarghona. "While
conducting classes we always had a contingency plan in
case the Taliban raided our secret school."
At Nangarhar University there are many female
students who attended Zarghona's "secret school"
during the Taliban regime.
In 2007 Zarghona went to the United States of
America where she briefed American colleagues about
education in Afghanistan and learnt how schools are
operating in the U.S..
"It was a valuable experience and I use some of the
methodologies I learnt from my American colleagues in
my classes," said Zarghona.
"The Provincial Education Department and the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) help us with the
teaching materials, teacher trainings and books," said
More than six million children have enrolled in
school since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, 35 per
cent of them girls.
Building new schools, providing new teaching
materials for teachers and students, conducting
teacher trainings, establishing literacy courses for
both men and women are all part of UNICEF's efforts to
help the education sector in Afghanistan.