News about the foundation, girls' education, and women's rights in Afghanistan
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Our new class of seniors had a wonderful visit to the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) yesterday! Thank you so much for the kind hospitality and the inspiration, AUAF--and especially to Dr. Mark English, pictured here with Razia Jan, Nahid Alawi, and our seniors. The girls loved every minute!
Tenth grader Tajala is 17 years old. She enrolled at the Zabuli Education Center in 2015 as an eighth grader. She then skipped ninth grade, going straight from eighth to tenth. She earns high marks on her exams and is second in her class.
Tajala is calm, polite, and intelligent. She is an avid English student and can write and read English very well. She also enjoys studying biology and Dari.
Tajala's father died when she was young. Her mother is a homemaker. She has three sisters and one brother. Her two eldest sisters, 21 and 20, are both illiterate. They help their mother with domestic tasks and make beautiful baskets from colored beads. Tajala's third sister is 16 years old and attends eighth grade at a public school in Deh'Subz. Her brother is 14 years old; he also attends eighth grade at a public school in Deh'Subz. (Although her siblings attend public school, Tajala advocated for a higher-quality education.)
Like her older sisters, Tajala enjoys making beautiful baskets in her spare time.
She wants to become a police officer and serve her community.
Yalda was one of the first seven girls to graduate from the Zabuli Education Center. When Yalda was in ninth grade, she was engaged to be married. Although girls are usually forced to withdraw from school once they are engaged, she begged and pleaded with her family to be allowed to finish twelfth grade before discontinuing her education.
Yalda persuaded her future husband to allow her to continue her schooling with the condition that she would graduate in three years. So Yalda studied extra hard and was able to take an exam to skip tenth grade.
Yalda was married as a senior in high school, but her in-laws allowed her to continue school. She graduated in December 2015. Her family's attitude has continued to change, and since graduating, Yalda is still at school, now helping out as an assistant teacher. Yalda is going to continue her education at the Razia Jan Institute when it opens. She wants to be a midwife in the local village, turning her education into a positive force for the community.
Yalda's younger sister, Leeza, is in eighth grade at the Zabuli Education Center this year.
Marwa is 15 years old and is in the tenth grade. She began attending the Zabuli Education Center in 2014 as an eighth grader.
Marwa's father is a businessman and her mother is a homemaker.
Marwa has six sisters and one brother. Five of her sisters are students at the Zabuli Education Center: Husna (twelfth grade), Safa (Marwa's twin, tenth grade), Kubra (fifth grade), Hena (second grade), and Sodaba (first grade). Marwa's youngest sister, Dunia, is three years old. Marwa's brother is 14 years old and he is in grade seven at a private school in Kabul.
Marwa is a lovely, kind student. She studies hard. Her favorite subjects are the Holy Quran, math, and English. In her spare time, she much enjoys listening music.
Marwa wants to become a doctor—or perhaps the Afghan ambassador to a foreign country.
Sixteen-year-old Barnaz is a tenth grader at the Zabuli Education Center. She enrolled in 2008 as a third grader.
Barnaz’s father is a taxi driver in Deh’Subz and her mother is a homemaker. She has three sisters and two brothers. Both of her sisters are students at the Zabuli Education Center: Rukhsar (sixth grade) and Zubaida (fifth grade). Her youngest sister, five-year-old Mahnaz, has paraplegia and is unable to walk. Mahnaz has enrolled at the Zabuli Education Center and will begin kindergarten in March 2016. Barnaz’s elder brother is in the ninth grade and her other brother is in grade one. Both attend public school in Deh'Subz.
Barnaz became engaged in 2014. Her in-laws decided to have the wedding in 2016. Barnaz very much wants to complete her schooling.
Barnaz is restrained and polite. She enjoys making beautiful pen cases, bread cases, handkerchief cases, and so on from beautiful colored beads. Her favorite subjects are English and computer science. She wants to become a teacher and work at the Zabuli Education Center as a kindergarten teacher.
Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation proudly announces that the first class of seniors at the Zabuli Education Center for girls in Afghanistan, founded by CNN Hero Razia Jan, will graduate with high school diplomas on December 12, 2015. The ceremony will be live-streamed for viewers around the globe late Friday night and early Saturday morning. For viewing instructions, visit our home page.
The Zabuli Education Center is a thriving K-12 school in the district of Deh’Subz that has flourished since opening its doors eight years ago, providing free, superlative education in a highly impoverished area:
- Student enrollment has grown from 109 students to nearly 500.
- By the Afghan Ministry of Education’s metrics for administration, curricula, and facilities, the Zabuli Education Center is the top private school in the district. Students continually pass Ministry-issued semi-annual exams with flying colors. A representative from the Ministry is on record describing the school as “perfect.”
- The school’s attendance rate is 93% and retention rate is 96%.
- In 2013, the school added a third floor to accommodate demand.
- Illiterate fathers who were once leery about sending their daughters to school now express pride that their little girls can help them read letters—even in English.
- Village elders, who once refused to look Razia in the eye, now praise her efforts and support the school’s growth, referring to Razia as the “Mother of Deh’Subz.”
- Girls who once were silent about forced engagements and early marriages are now speaking up and finding ways to negotiate more time in school.
“What these students have accomplished today is beyond my expectations, but not beyond my dreams,” said Razia Jan. “They have opened the doors of knowledge and freedom in their lives—and that achievement can never be taken away. There is no one in the world so proud of these girls as I am.”
Those looking for a way to support Razia’s Ray of Hope are encouraged to Sponsor a student; details are available here.
A number of these graduates will be part of the inaugural semester at the brand-new Razia Jan Institute, the first post-secondary institute for women in rural Afghanistan, which is currently under construction on a site adjacent to the Zabuli Education Center. Two courses of study will be offered: office administration and health services/midwifery. The latter program will establish the first health care clinic in the district. Students will graduate in two years with marketable, much-needed skills and the ability to work in schools, businesses, government, and health care—careers that are compatible with being a married, observant Afghan woman. The institute will also provide English and computer classes.
Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation has received international accolades for its critical impact in one of the world’s most distressed and volatile countries. The foundation provides opportunities to learn and grow in a safe, nurturing environment, empowering girls through education and resources so that they may work toward brighter futures in their own villages and beyond.
Now, more than ever, concerned global citizens must come together to enact positive, systemic change. In no uncertain terms, the future—the future we share—depends upon our unified collaboration. Girls' education is acknowledged to be one of the most effective means of reducing poverty, fostering stability, and combating violent extremism.
Will you join our family of supporters by Sponsoring one of our eager young students? Girls like seven-year-old Shokria—who wants to become a teacher when she grows up—depend on you to fulfill their own dreams of making the world a better place.
Since opening our doors eight years ago, our school has grown from 109 students to 530. We've expanded our building to accommodate demand. Our students take exams issued by the Afghan Ministry of Education twice a year, and continually pass with flying colors. We're thrilled that our first class of seniors will graduate on December 12—and that many of them will be part of our inaugural semester at the brand-new Razia Jan Institute, the first college for women in rural Afghanistan.
Sponsorship is the perfect gift for the loved one in your life who wants to make a positive impact in our global village. Honor him or her with the gift of hope — a holiday present that will endure well after the wrappings and festivities have faded away. A gift letter for your recipient is available for download here.
Through our Sponsorship program, for just $25 a month—about the cost of one caffè latte a week—you provide one of our students with quality education and opportunity. During each year of Sponsorship, you or your gift recipient will receive:
- A handwritten card from our founder, CNN Hero Razia Jan
- A photo of your student along with her biographical introduction
- Two personal letters from your student, in English!
The impact of your support becomes tangible as you come to know an Afghan student personally in a relationship that enriches her life—and yours.
Our goal is to reach 100% Sponsorship by the end of 2015. This is our end-of-year campaign and we will not be asking you for any other contribution. Please, join our Sponsorship program today. Your student is waiting!
Nazaneen became a student at the Zabuli Education Center in 2008. She skipped ninth grade, going straight from eighth to tenth. Today she is 16 years old and is in the eleventh grade.
Nazaneen's father is a guard in the Afghan Ministry of Culture and Information. Her mother is a homemaker. Nazaneen has five sisters and one brother. Her three elder sisters are married; her two younger sisters, Baseera and Tamana, are both students at the Zabuli Education Center in the seventh and third grades, respectively. Nazaneen's brother is a fifth-grader at a private school in Kabul.
Nazaneen is an intelligent, polite and punctual girl. She is a dedicated student and has the first position in her class. Her favorite subjects are Islamic studies and English. She enjoys reading English books in her spare time.
Nazaneen's greatest wish is to go to university and earn a law degree. She wants to become a prosecutor.
Muzhgan is 15 years old and is in the 11th grade. Her father is a colonel and her mother is a homemaker. She has two sisters and three brothers. Muzhgan's eldest brother is a doctor in Austria. Her second brother has graduated from Kabul University and is now an officer in the Ministry of Defense. Her third brother is studying law at a private university in Kabul. Muzhgan's eldest sister graduated from a private institute sharia, and her second sister graduated from a private university where she studied medicine.
Muzhgan started attending the Zabuli Education this year after midterm exams. She is very polite, calm, intelligent, punctual, and well behaved. She studies her lessons eagerly and gets great marks on quizzes. Her favorite subjects are mathematics and English. She enjoys reading in her spare time.
Muzhgan's greatest wish is to complete her education, studying law, and serve to her people as an advocator.