Written By: Tabasum Nasiry
A group of Afghan scholars in exile have announced the creation of online classes to provide access to education for Afghan girls who are facing gender discrimination and educational bans in Afghanistan. According to a report by the American University, these classes have been established under the leadership of Bashir Mobasher, an Afghan researcher in the Afghanistan Legal and Political Sciences Association (ALPA).
According to this institution, the courses at this university are offered for free and cover various subjects, including gender studies, human rights, critical thinking, arts, and preparation for scholarships, especially English language education, for girls and women in Afghanistan, from the tenth grade to completion of their studies.
The American University has emphasized that since the establishment of this university, it has created 15 classes for nearly 400 girls and women and plans to expand these numbers to 30 classes due to increasing demand.
Fatima, a student who couldn’t continue her education in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over, spoke with this university and said, “Everything is closed for girls. They promised us they would open the school doors for us, but they didn’t.” She had previously been able to study mathematics, history, writing, and art in the ninth grade despite gender restrictions.
Bashir Mobasher, the head of the Afghanistan Legal and Political Sciences Association, highlighted that the current political situation in Afghanistan has created many challenges for women and girl students, and online learning potentially offers a vital lifeline for many Afghan girls who lack access to education.
According to Mr. Mobasher, these online classes are taught by professors and graduates from the American University, as well as legal and political science professors from Afghanistan in exile and other universities.
Sima Bahous, the executive director of the United Nations Women, has called the creation of online classes for girls deprived of education a “fresh hope.” She mentioned that these girls have no voice, political or otherwise, and they are not allowed to leave their homes without a male companion, go to public parks, or engage in sports. Women and girls in no other country are deprived of all aspects of life to this extent.
The American University also stated that Afghan women and girls face challenges in accessing remote education due to issues such as the lack of reliable technology and internet access, insufficient electrical infrastructure, economic constraints, and security threats.
Mental health classes are also mentioned in this report as the increasing cases of depression and suicides among Afghan girls and women are a growing concern.
This comes at a time when the number of online universities in various countries, including the United States, has increased in the past two years, despite the challenges in internet connectivity. Financial Times had previously reported that, despite internet connectivity issues, the enrollment of Afghan girls in online education, especially English language, science, and business courses, has risen.