Farzana the only girl in her class | Photo: Baktash Musawer

Farzana to make history

The girls in Nahr-e-Ab village normally study school up to 7 or 8 grade - the maturity age. Then, they have to leave school. Some will stay at home to become house girls 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 her 11th class. She has not left school yet and wants to be graduated. Farzana is the first girl in this village so far to study up to 11th class. She is studying at Mawlawi Ghulam Rasool High School - the only school in this village that three years ago Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) constructed its building in Nahr e Ab village, Farkhar district of Takhar province.

All of Farzana's classmates are boys. Now she is used to studying together with these boys because this is her third year she is the only female student in a boy class.

“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.

Farzana with her junior schoolmates | Photo: Baktash Musawer

“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 stationary 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 Mawalaw Ghulam Rasool school are all male. This is also one of the reasons why girls are leaving school at the maturity age. Abdul Basir, a village elder in Nahr e Ab 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 as well as the boys and girls are studying together in the classes, the villagers do not prefer to allow their daughters to continue their studies, once the girls reach to maturity.

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:

“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 enrollment increased around 20% during the last three years. The registration increased from 50 students a year to 70 and then to 100 students last year.”

Nahr e Ab village is located 31 kilometers far from Taliqan, center of Takhar province. More than 10 kilometers 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.