Pandemic Halts Schooling for Afghan Students

Students in Afghanistan have lacked access to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, as schools have remained closed and the virus has not been controlled.”The real tragedy is that over 3,000 students in Kabul who come from poor families simply do not have the ability to pursue online education during the pandemic when schools are closed,” said Aziz Royesh, a teacher and founder of the A doctor fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center, in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 11, 2021.Not all have internet, electricityStudents in big cities such as Kabul and Herat have better security and a few hours of electricity most days, and more privileged students have access to the internet, although it is often weak and unreliable. But in the countryside, students do not have the same security, power is very limited and the internet is almost nonexistent, they report.A teacher talks with students at a coffee shop in the Kardan University in Kabul, June 15, 2021.’I will be a year behind’Mohammad Reza Nazari, a recent high school graduate in Kabul, is struggling to get an education during COVID-19. He was taking English classes at Star Educational Society when the center shut down, putting a stop to his education. “I was taking a TOFEL class to pass the exam and apply for schools abroad, but unfortunately the limited electricity and poor Wi-Fi connection prevented me from doing online study,” he said, referring to the Test for English as a Foreign Language that many U.S. colleges and universities require for acceptance.”I get really sad and depressed when I remember that I will be a year behind other students my age,” he said.Khodadad Jafari from Daikundi, Afghanistan, is a student at Star Educational Society. He moved to Kabul three years ago to learn English so he could study abroad and find a part-time job to support himself and his family back in his village.”I came to Kabul with a lot of hope, but I had to return to the village with all my wishes destroyed,” Jafari said.He tried to stay in his village, but his drive to get an education led him back to Kabul.”I have access with my mobile to some phone data in Kabul that I did not have at home. I learn English by watching YouTube videos and from websites, but I have limited data and resources,” Jafari said.Maryam Darwish is a high school senior in Kabul. Since her school shut down, she has found it hard to study by herself.”I can study social studies, but I need someone to help me with science and math. I try to spend my day drawing, reading fiction and going over my social studies books,” Darwish said. “I want to continue my education online, but I am always worried and sleepless.””It’s hard to overstate the impact that COVID has had on the continuity of education in Afghanistan. So many students lost nearly all of 2020 to school closures, and now schools are closed again for the foreseeable future,” said Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan, in Kabul.”SOLA, as a boarding school, is fortunate in that we’ve been able to institute health and safety procedures that have allowed us to operate throughout this year without any outbreaks on our campus, but our model is unique in Afghanistan,” she said. “COVID is the great thief that has robbed millions, literally millions, of Afghan girls and boys of their education.” 

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