Afghan woman activist provides free education to Balkh's school-deprived children

By Muhammad Qasem

Joining with fellow activists, a Balkh activist in northern Afghanistan opened a private education centre in late April 2022 to help some 150 school-deprived children get an education. [Courtesy of Shoiab Hamdard]

KUNDUZ -- When Zahra Siddiqui, an activist from Dehdadi district, Balkh province, saw young children in her neighbourhood forced to work to help their families, she knew something had to be done.

Siddiqui, a resident of Sheikh Abad neighbourhood, joined hands with other woman activists to establish an education centre at their own expense to provide free education to more than 150 of the province's children.

Their goal is to fight illiteracy and to provide an educational environment for the children of families who have been affected by the country's conflict, drought and poverty.

Students learn Dari and English as well as religion, math and history.

Young children, including girls, who were deprived of going to school by war and poverty are seen at a class established by Afghan woman activists in Dehdadi district, Balkh province, June 26. [Courtesy of Shoiab Hamdard]

Young children, including girls, who were deprived of going to school by war and poverty are seen at a class established by Afghan woman activists in Dehdadi district, Balkh province, June 26. [Courtesy of Shoiab Hamdard]

"When I saw children doing hard labour, I felt very uncomfortable," Siddiqui said. "When I looked at the young children, I felt very sorry for them and wished that the area had a school for them."

"I repeatedly raised the issue with the provincial education department, but it never responded. Finally, I thought I should take the initiative and establish an education centre," she said.

"I am so happy that I have been able to provide a learning opportunity for the children in this neighbourhood."

She and the other woman activists who have joined her will spare no effort to eradicate illiteracy in the province, said Siddiqui, who holds a journalism degree from Balkh University.

The group is prepared to expand its operations if it receives additional support, so that the education centre can provide learning opportunities for all the area's school-deprived children, she said.

The centre opened in the last week of April in co-ordination with the provincial departments of education, economy, and information and culture, Asal Sulehshur, a teacher at Siddiqui's education centre, said.

"The centre provides accelerated education for pre-school-aged children to prepare them to go to school next year," she said.

"Most of the children enrolled at the centre are not literate, and some others are deprived of going to school for various reasons," she said. "The centre helps them learn about various subjects."

"I call for additional support so we can expand the service and provide free education for more children," she said.

"There are four teachers, two female and two male," she said.

Hope for a better future

Amanullah Ghaznawi, 9, a resident of Sheikh Abad village, said he had been deprived of pursuing his education by conflict and insecurity.

"We lost hope when we were displaced because we were uncertain about the future," he said. "But I am thrilled that I can now continue with my studies."

"I call on all my peers to study so that they become engineers or doctors," he said. "It is not the time to work and make money but rather to study and build their future."

Zareena, 10, a resident of Ramazani village in Dehdadi district, Balkh province, said she used to be illiterate, but now she is very happy that she can read and write.

"We were displaced by the conflict, and when we returned to our home, there was no news about resuming education," she said.

"I was not able to read. Now I can read and write," she said. "The centre has provided an excellent learning opportunity for us."

Families and residents of Balkh province have welcomed the new opportunity for children's education and say that organising such a programme for impoverished and deprived children is extremely important.

Hundreds of families were forced to leave their homes by conflict and difficult conditions, and their children were deprived of education as a result, Mohammad Omar, 58 a resident of Dehdadi district, said.

"Displaced families were scattered across different parts of Balkh province, where they took temporary shelter for three to six months," he said. "Some families have returned home as of two to three months ago."

"Our children have been deprived of going to school and acquiring literacy in the district's remote villages for various reasons, but now we are happy that this education centre has been established and provides education for our children," he said.

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This is a good and praiseworthy step that shows how much the Afghans, especially women, are interested in science and education. By closing school doors for the Afghan girls, the Taliban proved that they are not only the enemies of knowledge and education but also the sworn in enemies of the Afghans. At the same time, the Taliban think that by closing the school doors to the poor Afghan girls, they can receive privilege from the world, but even if the world gives those franchises, the Taliban won’t open girls' schools, because the Taliban always break their promises. History would never forget this crime of the Taliban. The people of Afghanistan would never forgive the Taliban and a day would come when they would take revenge for this great treason from the Taliban and their Punjabi (Pakistani) masters.


May there be more such heroic women, but, sadly, this is the action that governments should take. In addition to providing work, security, and other services, governments are responsible for providing educational opportunities to the citizens of a country. However, in our homeland, the story is the opposite. The government has closed the doors of schools against its children and continues to force itself despite the opposition of the entire nation and the international community. One should be sad that we have such rulers in the 21st century, and in the 21st century, the enemies of knowledge are so strong in our society. :(


Thanks to Mrs. Zahra Seddiqi for this good job and thanks to Salaam Times, which makes us happy and gives us hope by publishing such good news. Meanwhile, I have a request from Salaam Times and other media organizations to join the national campaign of opening girls' schools. Sometimes back, Afghan users started a hashtag on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, in which they requested the current officials of the Afghan government to open the gates of schools for girls and let the girls get educated and have the opportunity to serve their people and society in the future. Unfortunately, many of the Afghan media didn’t join this request of the Afghan people and even refrained from publishing a report about it. Please at least for the sake of humanity raise your voice and plead for the opening of school doors for the innocent girls of Afghanistan. Dear media, please stop being neutral in this issue and keep this issue alive as long as you can.


I thank this heroic lady for her efforts and good intentions. Ms. Siddiqui's activities in the field of education of the country's children are a tight slap on the face of these foolish and God-fearless rulers of Afghanistan who are currently in control of the government of Afghanistan and have closed schools for innocent Afghan girls. May God make these ignorants of the 21st century wake up and leave behind their enmity with science and education. Afghanistan still needs more heroic women like Mrs. Siddiqui. May the enemies of knowledge and education be disgraced forever and hell be their permanent place.


Unfortunately, our children are deprived of school. The Taliban are acting up on the orders of Pakistan. Pakistan is a fierce enemy of Afghanistan. Pakistan is not only the enemy of Afghans but of all mankind. Due to the hypocrisy of Pakistan, its economic condition is deteriorating daily, and its currency is losing its value. America and the world community must protect themselves from providing Pakistan with assistance. Pakistan should be divided into its constituent parts (Pashtunistan, Balochistan, Sindh, and Punjab), and this supporter of terrorism should disappear from the world's map.