Girls, child labourers, or refugees fleeing the Taliban. These are the forgotten children who are being given a second chance to learn at community schools in Kabul.
By far, girls make up the majority of the children attending our community schools. Most have been kept at home by parents who are scared that their girls will be targeted as they travel to school.
More than a third of our students are children who have fled to Kabul to escape violence in their home provinces. These refugees are often escaping villages under the control of the Taliban, where they were forbidden from attending school.
Finally, there are the street-working children, whose struggling families need them to earn money and help buy food, fuel or lodgings.
Children learn at our community schools through accelerated learning so that they can catch up, as quickly as possible, on the education they have missed. They learn the full six years of a primary school education in three.
Accelerated learning requires that our students study intensively. They work throughout the year, not taking any school holidays, and with more teaching hours per day than state school students.
Our community schools have no permanent locations. We run them for three years at a time from rented premises, on residential streets. This has two main benefits.
Firstly, we’re able to move to where we are most needed; particularly poor areas of Kabul, where there are high numbers of children out of school.
Just as importantly, the schools are usually just a few minutes’ walk away from the children’s homes. This is especially important for girls. The proximity of our community schools is often the factor that persuades parents in to allowing their girls to attend.
of children attending our classes are girls
children have received accelerated learning from us
of children attending our classes are conflict refugees
of our graduates are guaranteed a place in government secondary school.
We don’t want any child having to work to support their families, especially as it is often exposes them to unhealthy or dangerous situations. But we have to recognise that this is the hard reality for many of the children who attend our community schools in Kabul.
By offering exactly the same accelerated classes in the morning and the afternoon – we do at least ensure that these working children won’t miss out on their education. Enabling them to fit their studies around their other commitments. (We are also working in other ways in Afghanistan to help mothers earn money and ease the burden on their children, you can learn how here).
Before establishing any community school our Afghan staff will meet with Imams and Wakils (community leaders). These leaders join us in advocating for local children, including girls, to be allowed to attend our classes. Their influence can be invaluable.
We also invite parents of prospective students to visit existing schools to see how they are run and to meet the teachers.
Our engagement with the community is continuous, and is key to us being able to meaningfully help out-of-school children. Within each school is a member of staff who will spend a significant portion of their week out in the community, enrolling out-of-school children, following up on absent pupils and greatly strengthening the school's ties with the community.