During the Taliban period, Gulalai’s family lived in a southern province in Afghanistan. Girls were not allowed to go to school or even to go out to public places without being escorted by a male family member.
Later, after the fall of the Taliban, Gululai’s family moved near to an urban city in Afghanistan. But by then Gulalai was already a young woman and there was no opportunity for her to enrol in a government school because she was too old.
Then, the STAGES project established an accelerated learning programme class in Gululai’s village. Accelerated learning classes are designed for older girls, who for whatever reason missed out on their education when they were children. As soon as the class opened, Gulalai was one of the first students to enrol.
Now, Gulalai is in second grade. She can already read and write, and her dream is to study medicine and become a doctor.
Gululai spoke a little about what the STAGES project has meant to her.
“When I was small I wanted to go to school, but I didn’t get the chance because the Taliban wouldn’t let us. When security improved I was already too old and was ashamed to join grade 1 with small children. Fortunately when the project started accelerated learning classes for us in our village, I was able to join and didn’t feel ashamed because there were other girls of my age in the class. Now I have graduated from grade 1 and I was the best student in my class!”
“I am so happy with my life because I can attend class and can read and write. My father and mother are encouraging me to continue my studies. My father says: “whenever you catch the fish from the water it is fresh” – which means that it is never too late to start something new. I am so happy that I can read and please my teacher, and I want to be a doctor in the future. An illiterate person is like a blind person, but when a person can read and write then they can really see. My message to all girls is that they should go to school and become good teachers and doctors.”
Through the STAGES project, the Girls’ Education Challenge supports 265 accelerated learning programme classes in which 86% of the students are female. Accelerated learning classes let students who are too old for a regular primary class study two grade levels in a calendar year with other students their own age in their home communities. The Girls Education Challenge is funded by UK Aid.