BBC World, 23 October 2001

Afghan girls' second chance

Afghan girls, taking refuge in Pakistan during the military conflict, are attending schools for the first time.

The Taleban's opposition to women receiving an education has meant that many young Afghan females have never received any formal classroom lessons.

But refugee girls are now being taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, in a school sponsored by an organisation that has campaigned for women's rights in Afghanistan.

According to reports, 80 students study in two-hour shifts in a single classroom in Quetta, with lessons taught in Persian.

The classroom and the pay for four teachers is organised by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which also covertly provides lessons for women within Afghanistan.

There are pupils in these classes who had begun school, but who were stopped from attending lessons under the Taleban regime.

A 12-year-old pupil, Gulnisa, was at school for one year, before the ban on female education was imposed.

"I can remember a little - like something in a dream," she said.

Secret lessons

Within Afghanistan, RAWA says that it runs "home-based" schools, which help to teach women to read and write.

It says that because of the dangers attached to breaking the Taleban's ban, teachers would go to women's houses individually, "so nobody can suspect about our activities".

The campaign group also says there are groups of women who meet for lessons and to talk about women's rights and the importance of education.

According to RAWA, these circles meet twice a month.


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