Editor’s note: In part one, our writer described how she encountered many obstacles in trying to open a school in her home province. With help from her family she persevered and her school opened in 2010 with 120 girls and boys.
My school in Jawzjan is in its second year and is growing. After the winter we reopened in March for a new school year—with 179 students and eighteen great teachers.
We closed for winter holidays from December 20 to March because the building has no heat and it is the standard in Jawzjan that all schools are closed during that time. We will have a ten-day summer holiday in August and we have national and religious holidays. But the rest of the time we have school six days a week from Saturday through Thursday. Friday is a holiday in Afghanistan.
School starts at 7 a.m. and goes until noon. We would like to serve lunch to the students some day and when we are able to do so, we will keep school open in the afternoon, too. At an additional cost of $15 per student, lunch would exceed our budget.
Our school building has twelve rooms. It is a modern building, but we do not have a large playground for the students. Some of our teachers live far from school and they arrive by motorcycle. Others come on foot if they cannot afford the car or do not want to spend the fare.
Now we have seven men and eleven women teachers who studied education and are good teachers. They are paid a very low salary, but they do not object because they want to help the children. They receive $1 per hour.
They teach the required curriculum with math and science and social studies and we supplement with English and computer skills and Islamiat, using Oxford University Press, which helps with learning English.
Our students are from four to eighteen years old. The ones who live close by walk to school and we provide transportation for others who live far away for a small fee. Most of the students create relationships with wealthy families so they can afford the school fees. We currently have six who do not pay tuition, but that is all right because we can support a total of ten nonpaying students.
I started my school after my family returned to Afghanistan and I realized after finishing twelfth grade in Jawzjan that the schools are not very good in Afghanistan. Up until then, I had attended school in Pakistan. I wanted my younger brother and sister to have a good education. So I started my own school for them and for my hometown people.
I’m not sure how I can create a change for my poor country, but I had many reasons for opening this school. It has many positive sides. We provide better knowledge to the children in my hometown in my lovely country. We provide jobs for some Sheberghan people so they can support their families. We have a cleaner and a guard and we plan to have two cleaners and two guards in the future. And finally, I hope to do something to bring peace to my country.
By Maryam A.
Photo by the author