Ghor Province lies at the end of the Hindu Khush mountains and was once the grazing land for the horses of Genghis Khan’s Mongol army. But now, nestled in the lowland flats of L’al Center, is an institution breathing hope and life into this remote community in Western Ghor Province. Established in 2011 with only 32 students, Rahnaward-e-Noor High School now serves approximately 350 students from 1st through 11th grades. In 2019, they will introduce their first graduating class to the people of L’al.
The school is educating a new generation of learners. The parents of many students at Rahnaward never had the opportunity to learn how to read and write and now they encourage their children to study at the only private school in all of Ghor Province. Although parents struggle to support their large families, they understand the value of education and want their children to have a future that is brighter and more promising than their own.
Ghor’s primary economic activity is agriculture. However, the growing season is short and the area is prone to drought. In the winters, the rugged passes are often blocked by heavy snow. Poverty and illliteracy are high. Many of the fathers of the children who attend Rahnaward are working in neighboring countries to support their families because the opportunities for unskilled labor in Ghor are limited.
At Rahnaward, boys and girls study in mixed classrooms, an anomaly in Afghanistan. Students begin to learn English in the 1st grade. They attend classes in music, computers, public speaking, and writing. Students learn about democracy, tolerance and human rights in capacity building programs and 2-hour cultural programs are offered regularly.
In the other 71 schools in the district of L’al wa Sarjangle, half of the students study under the sun or trees – or tents, if they are lucky. Teachers are poorly trained, facilities and materials are nearly non-existent. Although over 28,000 students are registered, less than 40% of students regularly attend their classes. In a country where many students are willing to walk four hours a day to attend school, the status of education and a 60%+ absentee rate in this part of Ghor is a tragedy.
At Rahnaward, the total cost for tuition, books and uniforms ranges from $7 US per month for students in 1st through 3rd grade to $11 US per month for students in 10th through 12th grade. 64 needy students have been attending the school free-of-charge, but the school struggles to cover teacher salaries, rent and other expenses. Founder, Azizullah Mahdi, and principal Haidar Khairkhah, supplement the tuitions and some private donations, with their own personal funds. However, this is not a sustainable solution and will restrict the school from expanding and serving more students.
Through our scholarship program, we hope to cover as many students as we can. 2018 is our first year of partnership and we are supporting 21 students at Rahnaward.
We thank our other partner ROYA for this write up, and both the Foundation and ROYA are committed in their support to these resilient children in this long-ignored province.