Afghan Girls Celebrate Freedom to Study
Science Classes at IRC Schools Offer New OpportunitiesAfghan girls, banned from study for five years by the Taliban in Afghanistan, have been learning chemistry and biology in IRC-supported schools in Pakistan.
Starting this week, the girls will demonstrate their skills at a series of open Science Day events at IRC schools for refugee children in and around Peshawar. The students will perform chemistry experiments and present other science projects, show off their English and math abilities and recite poetry.
Science classes have long been offered at IRC-supported primary schools in refugee camps and settlements in Pakistan. Three schools have laboratories, while the rest use mobile science kits provided by the IRC, that include materials for biology, chemistry and physics experiments.
The IRC also provides extensive teacher training, mainly for Afghan refugee women. In the past several months, the IRC has been expanding its seminars, holding three-week workshops for hundreds of existing and would-be science teachers who plan to return to Afghanistan to find work in education in the year ahead.
"There is a dire need for demystifying science for refugee children and adolescents who have had little, if any exposure to the subject," says Nina Papadopoulos, coordinator of IRC’s education programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "By emphasizing the importance of a science education, we’re hoping that female students will look to careers in professions such as medicine. There is a desperate need for female doctors and nurses in Afghanistan."
The IRC supports 38 schools and more than 50 community-based classes for Afghan refugee children in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, with a focus on girls’ education. During the Taliban rule, the IRC also supported underground home-classes for girls in Afghanistan.
Today, the IRC is partnering with UNICEF and other agencies, to help rebuild Afghanistan’s education sector-establishing schools and training programs and providing learning materials for thousands of children going back to school.