Two years on from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the Herat Online School offers a vital lifeline to Afghan women and girls cut off from education, bringing hope and a chance to connect with the outside world, as they are forced to stay home, out of sight.
On August 15th 2021, as the United States-led forces withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban seized back power two decades after being ousted. In a 10-day offensive across the country in 2021, the Taliban stormed back to power, culminating with the fall of the capital, Kabul.
Terrified Afghans and expats rushed to the airport in attempts to board the last flights out of the country.
GIRLS DENIED EDUCATION
HERAT ONLINE SCHOOL
Angela Ghayour, a former teacher and Afghan refugee in the UK set up the Herat Online School in September 2021 after receiving messages from previous teaching colleagues and students in Herat, asking for help. She decided she had to do something.
“I simply could not sit and witness the despair, tears and grief of the girls of my homeland, so I started to light a candle in the dark to keep the hope of the bright day alive”.
Within a few weeks she had recruited hundreds of volunteer teachers who began teaching classes online for girls in Afghanistan.
Two years on, and the need for the school sadly remains. But it is flourishing.
Classes are offered each day on a range of subjects from maths, science, computer science, English literature, art, philosophy, Persian literature and women’s health, to provide the foundations for students to pursue their educational dreams.
Equality of education for all students is a guiding principle of the school, who believe that boys should continue to learn alongside girls and women to help counter the extremist Taliban curriculum taught to boys in Afghan schools; so approximately 30% of students are male. Students come from all over Afghanistan and some are refugees in Iran, where they also suffer discrimination in education.
Since 2021, thousands of students have benefited and there are currently around 700 students registered, with many more accessing classes, as family members share screens. Students are aged anywhere between 13-35 years old.
“With knowledge and action, Afghan girls have the power to build a safer and more peaceful future for our country”.
A BEACON OF HOPE
The Herat Online School offers a vital lifeline for Afghan students. Angela receives hundreds of messages of support and gratitude from the girls who are so happy to be able to learn and stay connected with their peers.
“This school brightens our darkest days. It brings hope, knowledge and a deep and wonderful message; ‘the pen instead of the gun! It just takes one step and thousands of people come together from different parts of the world to help Afghan girls to educate.”
ZAHRA* - HERAT SCHOOL STUDENT
"Thanks everyone for being with us. You will save a dream builder generation from a tyrant government.”
AFSOON* - HERAT SCHOOL STUDENT
"Herat Online School is a school of hope, happiness, and love. Whenever I join my classes I feel happy and I forget all the sadness inside me.”
ANOUSHEH* HERAT SCHOOL STUDENT
HOW WE ARE HELPING
Children on the Edge has been supporting Angela to develop the Herat Online School so that it can continue to offer high quality, free education, to Afghan students.
We have over 30 years of experience working alongside partners in more than 18 countries to find bespoke solutions to difficult problems and shape excellent ideas into viable sustainable programmes. As part of this process, we are helping the Herat Online School to form as its own independent UK registered charity and develop the programme so it can reach more students.