Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Girls Prevented From Attending School

Education officials say the conflict has forced most schools in Helmand to close over the last year.
This classroom at a girls’ school in Lashkar Gah is filled with pupils. Malalai, who is in year 11, says she’s grateful for the opportunity to study, but feels sorry for those who can’t attend classes.

“Security should be restored for us. Many girls don’t come to school because they are afraid, and they just sit at home,” she says.

The conflict raging throughout Helmand has forced many rural schools to shut their doors, according to Taj Mohammad Popal, the deputy head of education in the province. He says out of the 224 schools that were running last year, only 70 remain open.

Masooma is one of those forced out of education. Her school in the Nadali district has shut down, and she now stays at home, helping her mother with chores.

She says, “The Taleban closed our school a year ago. I was in year three when it closed.”

The school principal was shot dead on his way to work one morning.

Farida, another former pupil at the school, says she envies girls who are still able to attend classes because they will have a better life.

She is not optimistic about her own future, although she says, “I want our school to be rebuilt. I want to be a doctor.”

Popal says 17 pupils and staff members at rural schools have been killed. The situation has forced many schoolchildren to relocate to Lashkar Gah, although this creates its own problems for the education system.

“We don’t have enough classrooms…. We don’t have enough books and we don’t have much room in our schools. Conditions for pupils are worsening day by day,” says Popal.

He says the education ministry has promised to build boarding facilities for pupils who have been forced to move in from the countryside, but the project has yet to get final approval.

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, IWPR’s network of local reporters, activists and analysts are examining the economic, social and political impact of this era-defining pandemic.


More IWPR's Global Voices