The importance of girls’ education for the country’s future was the focus of twin UNAMA-supported TV roundtables in northeastern Takhar and Badakhshan provinces.
Razmara Hawash, a panelist in the Takhar event and Director of the local Department of Women Affairs, said, “In the past one-and-half decades significant changes and improvements have been brought to the life of Afghan women, but more effort is required, particularly in the field of girls’ education.” The roundtables aimed to mobilize support for girls’ education, which is essential not only for girls themselves, but also for the country’s future. The importance of gender equality was a further issue raised by panelists who were drawn from provincial government offices, civil society groups and religious leadership. Mah-e-Naw RTV, in Taloqan city, and Sema-e-Mehr RTV, in Faizabad, each produced a 40 minute pre-recorded programme of the roundtable in their province, reaching an estimated combined audience of 400,000 people throughout the northeast. This follows similar programmes run in Kunduz and Baghlan provinces in June, which were also recorded and broadcast to audiences in the hundreds of thousands. Panelists touched on the right of access to education for girls from social, religious and constitutional perspectives. They also focused on education at the provincial levels and the obligations of government to provide equal opportunities for both girls and boys. Challenges girls face in pursuing an education were highlighted, including insecurity and associated travel restrictions, poverty, conservative cultural constraints, a lack of professional and qualified teachers -- including female teachers -- and a relatively low level of understanding by parents about the importance of education. To this end, panelists stressed the responsibility of parents to foster a home environment in which education is encouraged for both girls and boys. Mawlawi Tajuddin Noori, a religious scholar in Badakshan province said, “The Koran emphasizes and highlights the importance of knowledge and education for human beings, for both men and woman.”
According to Sayed Zaiuddin, the deputy director of Badakhshan’s Department of Education, the province is home to more than 700 schools and educational centres, catering for more than 350,000 students, of which 160,000 are girls. Meanwhile in Takhar, 45 per cent of girls attend school while 30 per cent of teachers are women, according to Hassamuddin Nazari, the deputy Director of Takhar’s Department of Education. Takhar and Badakhshan provinces – which are multi-ethnic and predominantly rural -- both share a frontier with Tajikistan, while the latter province also has a border with Pakistan and China.