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A beacon of hope

24 April 2024, Impact of Our Work

Wagma’s path to education in Afghanistan 

In the rugged terrain of eastern Afghanistan, where girls have limited access to education, nine-year-old Wagma* is determined to learn. 

Wagma is only young, but her dreams are as vast as the Afghan sky. “I want to become a doctor in the future and help other girls in my community,”  she says. 

In Afghanistan, traditions dictate that girls like Wagma shouldn’t attend public school, where male teachers oversee co-ed classrooms. But Wagma yearned to learn. “I had a dream that one day, I could go to school and read the signboards and write lines,”  she remembers. 

Wagma (9) from Afghanistan always yearned to learn to read and write.

Wagma’s mother, Nazia,* had long wanted her daughters to be educated. “I only studied up to grade three because our school had male teachers and boys. My father and brother did not allow me to continue my education,”  she remembers. 

“It hurt me a lot that I could not study, but now I try my best for my daughter's education and bright future.”

Safe space for girls to learn

Seeing the determination of girls like Wagma, we established classes for primary-aged girls in her village. Female teachers were hired and trained so the classroom would be a culturally safe and welcoming space. 

When Wagma's mother heard about the Community Based Education (CBE) classes from their community elders and her husband, she immediately enrolled Wagma and her sister, Husna,* in the class. 

Two years on, Wagma and Husna have found friendship, courage and a sense of purpose at school. They’re not only learning essential subjects like literature and maths, but also gaining life skills that will serve them well in the future. 

Wagma and her classmate reading their lessons at Save the Children’s Community-Based Education class. 

Wagma says, "I am glad because I learned how to read and write. Also, this class helped me to find my courage and good friends. Before, I was very shy and could not talk to people or in front of adults."

My sister, Husna, and I are studying hard; she wants to become an engineer. Her big hope is to make a girls' school in our village.


Room to grow

Wagma’s teacher, Shabana,* is proud of her progress. She says demand is high for the girl-only classes run by Save the Children, with positive feedback from parents.  

“We currently have 34 girls in our class, but we do not have enough space or female teachers to enrol more students,”  Shabana explains. Wagma agrees, saying “…many girls want to join CBE classes, but our class is full.” 

We’ve supported 44,332 Afghan children to get an education with funding from Education Cannot Wait.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, we’ve been supporting out-of-school children like Wagma in nine provinces across Afghanistan to get an education. To date, we’ve helped 44,332 children - 55% of them girls – to learn. 

With further funding, we hope this project can continue to empower more girls, including beyond 2025, when the project ends. 

Wagma's story is a testament to the transformative power of education and the importance of investing in girls' futures. As she and her classmates continue their learning journey, Save the Children remains committed to providing them with the tools and support they need to learn and dream. 

This work is funded by Education Cannot Wait. 

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Photos: Nafisa Rahimi / Save the Children.

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