Baseera and her sisters were never allowed an education. But when accelerated learning classes were offered in her community, she saw the chance to catch up.
Baseera’s three brothers attended the government school in a nearby community, but she and her sisters were not allowed to study: “Although there was a school, my parents thought it was a sin for girls to study.” She stayed home, helping her mother with the housework and weaving carpets, her family’s main source of income.
Things changed one day when her father returned from the mosque and told her mother that the village mullah and elders had discussed the establishment of accelerated learning programme classes for girls in the village.
Baseera was happy because she thought she would have a chance to study. She gathered her courage and asked her father for permission to attend classes, but he refused: “You are fourteen years old. You already missed school and besides, we don’t have any money for you to study.” Baseera was disappointed but she did not lose hope.
She asked her uncle to talk with her father and he did, telling him about the importance of education in Islam and how the village mullah was encouraging girls to attend classes. Finally, her father agreed to let her study.
Baseera was delighted and went to talk with the teacher. Baseera quickly began to learn to read and write: “I learned to read a few words, then sentences and now, after four months of attending the classes, I am able to write and read simple things.”
Baseera was able to read a wedding invitation to her father and he was surprised and impressed: “The classes are a good opportunity for you, because you can study two grades in a year. And when you finish school, you can join the university.”
Baseera’s mother encourages her to attend classes too, because she sees that Baseera is teaching the family about health and hygiene lessons. Baseera’s mother said: “You have learned a lot and your little brother doesn’t get sick often anymore because you keep him neat and clean. This helps our family because we don’t have to go to doctor and spend money on treatment.”
The UK has been working for girls’ education in Afghanistan through the Girls’ Education Challenge. Through the STAGES project, more than 6,000 girls like Baseera, who weren’t able to attend school are now studying in accelerated learning program classes close to home.