Young woman runs ‘secret school’ in Panjshir for girls

A young Panjshiri woman, who was in Grade 12 when girl’s schools closed last year, has started giving girls in her village lessons in order to keep them learning.

This comes amid the ongoing closure of secondary schools for girls by the Taliban, as well as increasing restrictions on women in the country.

This “secret school” is a learning haven for about 60 girls and classes are held in two shifts.

The young teacher, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “Girls are suffering. They are desperately waiting to return to school. I have made them classes with very few facilities, only what I had in my home.

“Most of the girls did not have books or stationery. I sold my sewing machine and bought them notebooks and pens,” said the young woman.

The girls who attend the classes have welcomed the move and said it is an opportunity for them to continue their education.

“I have been in this class for the past few months where I study school subjects and it is something like saving me from hopelessness,” said Zainab, a student.

“I was always thinking about graduating from school and then becoming a doctor by continuing my higher education but the Taliban took this from me,” said Zahra, another student. “I think about myself every night when will be the day when the schools are reopened and I walk to school the next morning.”

Families of students said the closure of schools has put pressure on female students and has faced them with psychological issues.

“I used to go to school together with my sisters. Both of them had many wishes. Now they wish they were boys to be allowed to go to school,” said Ahmad, a resident of Panjshir.

The secondary schools are closed for girls for the past 438 days. Reports indicate that the exams of 12th-grade students from girls’ schools will be held soon but the test for all subjects will be finished in one day.

Figures by UN indicate that the decision by the Taliban to close secondary schools for girls has deprived at least 1.1 million girls of schooling.