The teacher defying the Taliban on girls' education
HERAT ONLINE SCHOOL
Herat Online School was set up in September 2021 to address the sudden lack of educational opportunity for girls in Afghanistan and those who had fled but were unable to continue their education.
When the Taliban took control in Afghanistan, Angela Ghayour, an Afghan refugee living in Brighton, UK started receiving hundreds of messages from previous teaching colleagues and students in Herat asking her for help. She decided she had to do something.
In its first 6 months, over 3,000 students have registered with the school Angela set up online, with access to hundreds of different classes. More than 300 teachers have volunteered to take lessons, and more are waiting to join. Subjects are varied and include sciences, languages, maths, medicine as well as support from psychologists to address mental health. Music and the arts have particularly suffered under Taliban rule, but are accessible at the Herat Online School, including classes in fine art, sculpting, calligraphy, music, and even yoga psychotherapy. Tests and evaluations are taken regularly, just as at any other school. Security and safety of students is paramount and Angela is careful to ensure that their identities are sufficiently protected.
“The advent of the Taliban made me realize that education cannot be just about teaching certain texts or formulas. I wanted to make sure that the girls of my homeland learn to dream more and understand there is more to this life than what the official narrative is trying to convince them of. My idea was to fight against and address the most brutal educational discrimination in the twenty-first century. I simply could not sit and witness the despair, tears, and grief of the girls of my homeland. So I started to light a small candle in the dark to keep the hope of the bright day alive. The solution to peace in our country is an educational path that connects Afghan citizens in a constructive way, with each other and for each other.”
Positive feedback from students has been overwhelming, both in the access to education, but also the hope that the school has brought to them. Shahnameh says, “Depression and negative thoughts caused me to distance myself completely from the world of education. I felt that all my efforts were completely destroyed overnight. I even left my English class and I saw myself as an aimless person. Then my father told me the good news about Herat Online School. It has impacted like sunlight on my dark life and has revived my hopes.”
Read more about the school: