Home Editor's Pick ‘There is no school for girls’: Afghans who fled to Pakistan sent back to a homeland that is foreign to many

‘There is no school for girls’: Afghans who fled to Pakistan sent back to a homeland that is foreign to many


For girls fleeing Afghanistan for refugee camps in Pakistan, an education can be hard to come by. Schools are overcrowded, and a lack of job opportunities means that many families don’t have enough money to pay school fees. But the recent return of many Afghan refugees has meant that returning home also means leaving school behind – most schools don’t accept students from Afghanistan, and there’s a traditional expectation that girls should only focus on housework.

Unable to continue their studies in Pakistan, and unable to attend schools at home, many girls are now facing a bleak future. With their education disrupted and limited opportunities for work, their prospects of returning to school are slim. Those that have been lucky enough to make the journey back to Afghanistan face an uncertain future, with no guarantee that they will ever make it back to their classrooms.

High schools are few and far between, and if a girl is lucky enough to find one, she must convince her family and community that she should be allowed to attend. Attending school can be dangerous for girls, especially in rural and conservative areas, yet even urban girls must contend with comments from relatives and neighbors about the threat from insurgents. Without support from community members, girls are increasingly reluctant to continue their education.

The Afghan government has taken steps to address the issue, investing in girls’ education projects and trying to make schools safer – initiatives that may help those who can still access them. But while new schools are going up, many still struggle to attract girls, due to a lack of awareness and of passage opportunities for girls. For those who have returned to Afghanistan, the biggest challenge is simply finding a secure place to study.

It is clear that the Afghan government needs to do more to provide educational opportunities to girls who have returned to Afghanistan, and to promote awareness of their right to attend school. Education is essential to the development and progress of any country, and it is particularly important for those fleeing from conflict. If the Afghan government is to build a viable future for this generation and its children, it must ensure that girls are able to access the education they need.

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