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Aqeela Asifi: Educating Afghan Refugee Girls

Women are often restrained to the private sphere of the home and family, which creates a serious problem for girls who are forbidden from accessing their right to education, for fear of being in the public (read: male) gaze.

As we discussed in class, home-based education systems have emerged as an innovative means of educating girls in conflict-ridden spaces, while ensuring their safety. Often times, such systems are merely adaptations to the conservative social and cultural context. Although we must address the very systems and mechanisms that allow such discrimination to take place, there are other changes that can be made at the surface-level, to adapt to the conservative environment.

In our reading, we looked at the implementation of home-based education systems in Afghanistan. Nansen Refugee Award Winner, Aqeela Asifi, has seen and addressed the need for such systems in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan.

In the video linked below, she explains her journey to becoming an educator. She realized her community needed her because the lack of facilities in refugee camps led to girls' education being side-lined. She therefore set up a make-shift school in a tent, and single-handedly started a school for girls.

However, as she stresses, its not sustainable or possible for her to take on this responsibility alone. She calls for international communities to donate and help. This raises a highly politicized question concerning refugees: who's responsibility is it to provide them with these basic necessities, such as education? Furthermore, should education become a priority in the aid that is provided?


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Heroes like her are the reason that we there is still hope left in this world. She is an inspiration for many young girls in Afghanistan and the change she is trying to bring is tremendous. I also came across a documentary which I have yet to watch too, called 'Learning to Skateboard In a Warzone ( if you're a girl)'. It also shows an initiative by women such as Aqeela, who want to empower girls and make them fearless by teaching them staking.


What a brilliant brilliant woman, thank you for sharing! This is a wonderful initiative, but like she mentioned herself, initiatives like this are often not sustainable and that's so scary. Just like Master Ayub's school, I wonder who would take on this responsibility once these incredible individuals are no longer able to continue? I feel like governments at least supporting initiatives like this to the extent that they are able to sustain themselves, would be a good first step if they are not able to launch such initiatives themselves. When governments can acquire private corporations and properties, why can't they do so for initiatives like this? It would possibly reduce costs of having to set up initiatives from the ground…

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