The Only Girl in her Class

The girls in N..... village normally study at school only up to Grade 7 or 8  - around 13 years old.  Then, they have to leave school. Some will stay at home to keep house and some will have to accept forced marriage. But Farzana wants to change the practice. Farzana has a different story.

She is 16 years old and is currently studying in Grade 11. She has not left school yet and wants to complete her studies and graduate. Farzana is the first girl in this village so far to study up to Grade 11. She is studying at the only school in this village which was built by Afghan Connecton three years ago in Farkhar district of Takhar province.

All of Farzana's classmates are boys. Now she is used to studying just with boys because this is her third year of being the only female student. 

“I have confidently decided to be the first girl in this village to graduate school from 12th class. I want to be the pioneer and specimen for other village girls and villagers to see me and allow their daughters to continue and finish school. I would have been studying in a class full of girls, if the other girls weren’t forced to leave school at an early stage. But studying with boys neither affect my decision nor is so much challenging for me now.”

Farzana also explained the main reasons behind her interest and enthusiasm for studying……

 “Our village faces a lot of challenges. We do not have female teachers or health workers. I am interested to work for this village one day. Also, we have economic problem in the family. My father has disability with his leg and works only in one season in the year when the farmers gather the harvest. My father works in the farms cutting wheat crops for very little wages. Then he has to feed the family for the whole year from this little income. My father borrows my school stationery from the village stores throughout the year and pays back when he gets the money for cutting the crops. I want to graduate school and get a job with a hope to support the family.”

The teachers at the school are all male. This is also one of the reasons why girls are leaving school atpuberty. Abdul Basir, a village elder in N..... village and a teacher at this school says that he is trying to encourage the families to allow their girls to continue school. But, he says that since there is lack of female teachers and boys and girls are studying together in class, the villagers  prefer to withdraw their daughters from their studies, once the girls reach puberty.

668 students are studying at this school including 233 female students. The school is built in one and half Jerib of land by SCA which has 10 classes and 6 rooms for the management and administration purpose. As per Mohammad Ibrahim, the master head teacher, the students were studying under the tent before the school building. He added:

“Before we had a building, we were facing a lot of problems during summer and winter seasons. Since the school building was constructed, the villagers got more interested in studying. The annual enrolment increased by around 20% during the last three years. The registration increased from 50 students a year to 70 and then to 100 students last year.”

The  village is located  far from Taloqan, the centre of Takhar Province. More than 10 kilometres of the way to this village is rocky, slippy and unpaved which makes it hard to pass. This has created a lot of barriers to reach to this village.