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Customs keep girls dropping out of school

Customs keep girls dropping out of school

May 05, 2015 - 14:01

More than a decade after the Taliban, who banned girls from education, were ousted from power, female students in provinces and even the central capital Kabul continue to drop out of school after reaching 5th or 6th class due to cultural restrictions and security concerns.

Girls were not allowed to go to school during Taliban regime, but after the establishment of Hamid Karzai government, women got some freedom to go out of homes, work in offices, get education and discharge other duties like men.

However, in provinces, where militants hold sway, it is difficult for families to send their daughters to school due to insecurity. Militants have blown up schools in many areas and warned families of dire consequences if they sent their girls to school.

Girls are not allowed to pursue education after primary school for reasons like insecurity, traditions, family concerns for girls going out of home in Afghanistan’s patriarchal society and lack of awareness.

Izzatullah, a resident of 9th municipal district of Kabul City, said he stopped his daughter from attending school after his brothers told him that she had grown up and it was shameful she went to school every day.

Izzatullah’s daughter was in 5th class and she would have been now in 6th class had her family allowed her to continue her education. The minor girl is one of hundreds of thousands who fall victim to old traditions which deny them a right enshrined in religion and universally supported.

There are various cultural barriers that discourage families to send their daughters to school like “bad image” in society for their daughters going out of home after reaching puberty.   

Former provincial council member Maroof Hotak said girls’ education in their area had drastically improved. He said in the past there was no trend of sending girls to school, but the situation changed with the passage of time. He hoped the time would come soon when girls would pursue higher studies.

Like him many residents say the situation of girls’ education has gradually improved. They say the government or any other authority could not force families to send their daughters to school, but seeing their daughters becoming successful individuals after education can convince them.

A teacher said old traditions still influenced families to stop their daughters from attending school. Sultan Jan said awareness-creating programmes should be launched to encourage parents.

Mohammad Younis Hotak, head of a local council, said education for girls was as important as for boys. “We need female doctors, teachers and nurses to serve our society and it can be possible when girls get education from high school to college and university level.

Education Ministry spokesman Kabir Haqmal lamented the high dropout rates among girl students. He said some families did not allow girls to complete education. He said 42 percent of students in Afghanistan were girls and it was important that this percentage of girls continue getting education.

The official said the issue was critical and traditions prevented girls from education could be eliminated through spreading awareness and highlighting the importance of education.

Hamim Kakar, a Kabul resident, said he stopped his daughter from going to school when she was promoted to class 5th because his grandfather was against her further education as he feared residents of the locality would talk negatively about her.

In a country like Afghanistan education is the only solution to resolve the current and the decades-old problems stemming from ethnic differences, the civil war, ignorance, poverty and other social issues.

The talent, wisdom, energy, enthusiasm, patriotism and a strong connection with religion of the people of Afghanistan had historically been tested.

With quality education and establishing higher education institutes, the Afghans meet the 21st century challenges and can serve their county in a true manner and put it on the path to progress for the coming generations.