New female teachers graduate in Gardez

Meet the women who will teach a new generation of Afghan girls

Photo essay by Sahraa Karimi

GARDEZ, Afghanistan, 8 March 2017 — Thirty-nine female teachers just graduated from a teacher training programme in Gardez, southeastern Afghanistan. Meet some of them on their big day!

KAMELA, 20 years old, Mathematics

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2017/Karimi
“Today is a big day in my life. My family, especially my father and brothers, didn’t let me to go to university. After finishing high school I stayed at home and didn’t do anything. When I heard about the GATE course, I convinced my father to send me to the programme for two years. I can now become a teacher at a girls’ high school. I can work. You don’t know how happy I am.”

NABILA, 19 years old, Islamic Studies

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2017/Karimi
“This is my certificate. It means I can teach. It gives me confidence. We are the first group of teachers to graduate from this programme and it’s going to make big changes. Many girls cannot even go to school here, but we finished these two years. Now I have the skills and knowledge to teach girls in my province.”

WAJIHA, 22 years old, Mathematics

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2017/Karimi
“Here in Paktya many girls cannot go to university after finishing high school. This programme is helping us to become educated and professional teachers.
I graduated as a teacher for mathematics. I can teach my students with more confidence. Before I only had a 12th grade education [high school diploma] and I wasn’t qualified to teach the subject I taught. These two years helped me to learn more mathematics but also about how to be a better teacher.”

HASINA, 19 years old, Islamic Studies

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2017/Karimi
“For me this ceremony is like a revolution. It’s the first time that girls have graduated from such a programme in Paktia. We hardly finish high school because of the limitations we face in our family and society, but we did it. I believe many girls will follow in our footsteps.”

HOMEYRA, 22, Islamic Studies

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2017/Karimi
“Many people refuse to send their daughters to school because of the lack of female teachers. This will help to change that and support girls’ education… And I am so proud to be part of this first group of teachers who graduated. It has a very significant meaning in our lives”.

Afghanistan’s education system has been devastated by more than three decades of sustained conflict.

In the poorest and most remote areas of the country, enrolment levels vary extensively and girls still lack equal access to the classroom: An estimated 3.5 million children are still out of school, of which an estimated 75 per cent are girls.

This low enrolment for girls can be explained in part by a shortage of female teachers, especially in rural districts, fueled by a combination of low salaries, insecurity, migration to urban centres, and social norms that have traditionally made it hard for women to get an education and pursue a career.

With support from the Government of the Republic of Korea, GATE is a two-year teacher training programme that allows female high school graduates to receive an Associate Degree that qualifies them to become teachers. Its aim is to increase the number of female teachers, improve girls’ access to education and reduce dropout rates, especially in rural areas.

Graduates of the GATE Teacher Training programme show off their diplomas on graduation day. They will go on to teach in girls’ schools in districts in the province of Paktia, southeastern Afghanistan. © UNICEF Afghanistan/2017/Karimi

*Names have been changed to protect subjects’ identity.