Completion and Inauguration of Qalai Gudar Girls’ School, Kabul Province, Afghanistan
The Education Partnership for Children in Conflict most recently partnered with UNHCR to build a school for the education of girls in Qalai Gudar village, Qarabagh district, Kabul Province. The school offers the girls of Qalai Gudar opportunities to learn in a culturally sensitive, all-female environment, and responds to the strong interest in education expressed by women and girls in this conflict-affected area.
Qalai Gudar village is located approximately 50 km north of Kabul city, and is home to some 2,300 families scattered over a wide area. Notable for its many orchards and rich farmlands, the area – known as the Shomali Plains – witnessed heavy fighting between the Taliban and Northern Alliance forces throughout the 1990s and up to the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Virtually the entire population fled the area due to the conflict, and nearly all houses, buildings, irrigation systems and other infrastructure were completely destroyed. Following the collapse of the Taliban regime, some 17,800 families comprised of 99,000 individuals have returned to the Qarabagh district, including the 2,300 families presently living in Qalai Gudar.
An estimated 2,000 families from Qalai Gudar continue to take refuge in Pakistan and Iran, according to community elders. Through the construction of a primary school for girls, EPCC and UNHCR aim to make the reintegration of returning refugees more successful and lasting, while at the same time contributing to conditions that may encourage other refugees to return home to Afghanistan in safety and dignity.
On November 6, 2012, the Governor of Kabul Province organized an official ceremony to inaugurate the Qalai Gudar Girls’ School. The ceremony was attended by the Provincial Governor, representatives from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Education, District officials including from the Department of Economy, District Security Commander, and over 200 members of the local community. The visible interest in the school was a heartening reminder of this community’s desire to see their daughters complete their education.
The school was formally handed over to the government’s Department of Education. In accepting the new school, the Department of Education committed to providing teachers and educational materials under the national education system and to maintaining the building as needed. Between 240 and 300 will attend Qalai Gudar Girls’ School, and the community has pledged to delay the marriage of girls in favor of permitting them to receive an education first.