Afghan Scholars-in-Exile Providing Online Education for Girls Living under Taliban – American University

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In Afghanistan, girls and women have been left with two paths, says Mobasher. They can try to leave to study in other countries, which typically requires English language skills, a spot at a US or European university, a generous scholarship, and travel to Pakistan to obtain a visa from an embassy. It is not easy, but thousands of Afghan women have done it; in fact, many live now in the Washington, DC, region. The other path is to stay in Afghanistan and wait things out. “The first time the Taliban collapsed, we rebuilt our country and created a couple of generations of peace and human rights activists,” Mobasher says. “We have so many talented people waiting for whenever the Taliban is gone, ready to pick up the pieces and start to rebuild.” 

Layla* is one of these women. She is 22 years old and was studying politics and law at Kabul University before the Taliban took over. She now takes ALPA classes in secret. “Most [members] of our class are suffering from mental illness because schools are closed, universities are closed,” she writes. “All our hopes in life are gone, and our only hopes are to go to school, and for our restrictions to end, so we will be able to live freely.”

Mobasher and his colleagues at ALPA want to support the dreams of girls like Layla and grow the ALPA’s Online Education Academy into a formal online college with accredited 100-400 level university courses. The group is working in this direction by standardizing the curriculum and collaborating with outside educational institutions for partnerships and accreditation.

In the meantime, Mobasher keeps up hope for fellow citizens left behind. “I dream that they can someday be free,” he says. “That they will be able to get an education, to work, to live in peace. Afghanistan was a patriarchal society even before the Taliban returned, and it will still be a struggle for women after the Taliban, but at least I hope that girls and women will be able to keep learning and finally be able to contribute to Afghan society again.”

* Student names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy and safety of the people involved.

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