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May 24, 2010
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Al-Jazeera TV Report on Women's Education in Kandahar, Afghanistan: Women Risk Their Lives Every Day to Come to School

#2508 | 04:02
Source: Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar)

Following is an Al-Jazeera TV report on a women’s school in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, which aired on May 24, 2010.

Reporter: A woman who decides to either study or teach in Kandahar must keep it a secret, because her life depends on this. They must wear the chador to avoid the danger. Getting to the Zarghona Ana school every morning is an achievement in itself. Inside, we can finally see the faces.

Some 1,800 students study here – from elementary to high school. We did not see too many uncovered faces. The presence of the camera means that others might know that they attend school. These “others” are people who oppose education for Pashtun girls in Kandahar, and usually, they express their opposition with violence.

In 2008, 70 male and female teachers were killed in Afghanistan. In April 2008, the director of education in Kandahar Province was assassinated. The teacher Zakiyya Jalal is aware of the situation, but is not willing to give up.

Zakkiya Jalal, a teacher at the school: It is very dangerous for me to get out of my home every day in this city. I am aware of this, but life must go on. It is my duty to teach what I have learned. I myself graduated from this school.

Every minute and every day, I suffer as a result of the news of assassinations, threats, and humiliation. Nevertheless, I will keep on getting out of my home to the last day of my life. I will do so in order to teach others. I am standing here for the sake of my oppressed and broken people.

Reporter: We understand all too well why only one student of this class has agreed to talk to us.

A student: In our religion, acquiring knowledge is the duty of every Muslim, man or woman. We leave our homes in fear, and our families worry about us until we return. We will never abandon the path or education.

Reporter: 52 teachers work here in an unusual atmosphere. Their number has been declining for the past three years, since nobody here is immune to security concerns.

An English teacher: My two friends who are also from this school have received threats by militants, and I don’t know whether they came today. We must continue to come here. Kandahar is on the frontline of this war, but we must continue to teach.

Reporter: Afghans cannot forget the female students who were attacked by militants with acid, but these attacks have not distorted the minds of the girls who want change.

A student, speaking English: I’m taking a big chance by coming to school in these conditions. The situation is bad, but this is our destiny. I want to be a good journalist in the future. I’m doing everything I can to achieve this.

Reporter: Unfortunately, the complicated and security concerns of Afghan women have not ceased for decades. What does the future hold for the education sector? Regardless of everything, they do not lose hope for a better future.

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