In spring 2008, we were approached by the headmaster of a girls school in Tangi Saidan. The Ministry of Education had not yet approved teachers for the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades and they needed five teachers. We agreed to pay the salaries of all five, if the Ministry of Education approved. We certainly do not want to interfere with or be in competition with Afghanistan’s educational system. Just 24 hours later, the headmaster delivered a letter approving the request. The 4th, 5th, and 6th grades were saved, helping educate 103 girls.
The boys’ school needed math and science teachers and we agreed to pay these salaries as well. The total cost of the seven teachers was $420 per month (7 X $60). One of TIE’s supporters agreed to underwrite the cost of all seven for the remainder of the school year. We are extremely pleased with the willingness of TIE’s supporters to respond as needs and solutions are identified.
It bears noting that the boys’ school had over 1,200 students and the girls’ school 400. The imbalance speaks for itself. Moreover, the boys’ school was not in jeopardy of losing its 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. Why? We don’t know. It is, however, a reflection of priorities and how educational resources are allocated.
Finally, the need for a math and science teachers in the boys’ school was timely. TIE was able to demonstrate its commitment to both boys and girls. The education of both is critical. It doesn’t take any effort to persuade Afghan girls and women that they should have more freedoms. Change will come only when the attitudes of boys and men change. Education of both boys and girls is the solution to overcoming the oppression of women.
In July 2008, the girls’ headmaster asked whether we could fund an additional two teachers for the 9th grade, which we did. Then in the fall, the girls’ headmaster informed us that our support led to the Ministry of Education agreeing to provide teachers through the 12th grade. This is a very important development. Some families only see the need to educate girls through the 6th grade, but now girls can attend classes through 12th grade in Tangi Saidan.
Ironically, the boys’ school at the time only offered classes through the 9th grade. We met with the headmaster and discussed what it would cost to add the 10th grade. However, he and several teachers proposed that we consider financing afterschool math and science courses. When we asked which was more important, they all agreed the afterschool classes were more important. (The girls’ headmaster had also commented on the fact that science was taught only two hours a week.) They feel that students going through the system were not being adequately prepared, particularly in the areas of math and science. TIE’s help in augmenting the education of these students is greatly appreciated and continues today.