Muslima, during her classwork|Photo: Salahuddin Momand

Emergency classes for Afghan kids returning from Pakistan

Muslima of seven (in the picture) is a student of first grade, studying in a classroom established in Shaheed Abdul Jabbar primary school located in Malak Bela of Behsud district. She is among others, whose families returned from neighboring Pakistan after decades, living there as refugees.

 

“I was a student of grade one in a school run by Pakistan. When my family was returning back to Afghanistan, I was very sad and missing my school and studies. I have brought my books too. I never know if I will be enrolled in a school here in Afghanistan, but one day my father enrolled me here to study and get familiar with the education curriculum,” says Muslima while sitting in the classroom next to her sister Nawbahar.

39 girls’ students are studying here. “We are four sisters. We (two) are in grade one, while two others are minor. I want to be a doctor and serve my community,” says Muslima.

Swedish Committee for Afghanistan has establish 98 classes in Rodat, Behsud, Surkhrod and Kama districts where a number of 3288 students including 1615 girls are studying. SCA has hired 98 teachers including 18 female teachers for the students studying in grade one till five.

Dr. Niaz U Rahman, senior officer of SCA Education Programme in eastern region says, “SCA has initiated the emergency education classes project for the students of returnees and internal displaced families, whom upon completion of six months’ studies will be enrolled in government run schools. Areas for these classrooms are selected based on the figures of high returnees.”

According to him Behsud district has 1156 students including 490 girls, Surkhrod has 546 students including 317 girls, Kamma has 994 students including 459 girls’ students, while in Rodat 592 students including 349 girls are enrolled.

“33 classes are only for girls, while 29 are mix where minor boys and girls both study, and 36 are boys only classes. SCA is in process of printing and supply of books and stationaries to the students. Majority of students are enrolled in grade one, two and three. Radio Aid has funded the project, while SCA is implementing it,” Dr. Niaz added.

Abdul Wahab Haleem is head teacher of Shaheed Abdul Jabbar primary school. He says, “we have six classes where 200 students including 107 girls are taught by six teachers including two female teachers. All these students are returnees.”

Abida, another student in Deh Tahir Kamma, says that they were living in Utmanzi area in Pakistan.  She said “Here books, method of teaching and pronunciation is different from what we were studying in Pakistan, but we are getting familiar to it”. 

Hadia Allah Nazar, a teacher of Muslima, who is herself graduated from University of Peshawar, and has returned along with her family two years before says, “the curriculum here in Afghanistan is totally different from Pakistan. Education in Pakistan is mostly in Urdu, national language, and in english but here in Afghanistan, it is in Pashto or Dari, Afghan national languages.”

Dr. Niaz informed that students in emergency classes are taught the Afghan syllabus, to make the students get familiar to it. This project is designed for six months and upon completion of studies, students will have to appear in entry test, which will be conducted by the department of education and according to their qualification, they will be enrolled in government schools.

He says “Afghanistan has a system of examination for enrollment in schools. Students coming from Pakistan or other countries have to appear in examination and based on their qualification and familiarity to Afghan curriculum will be given admission.”

Dr. Niaz says, if a student fails in entry test, they will be not admitted in schools in same grades, they have studied in Pakistan. Returnees classes will benefit students of grade two and higher, otherwise their studies will be wasted as they will be needed to sit in lower grades.   

Meanwhile, Prof. Allah Dad Ismailzada and Mohammad Asif Shinwari spokesperson of the of Education department have appreciated SCA for the emergency classes and have said that the education department will fully support SCA in the establishment of classes and hiring of teachers for the returnees’ students.