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February 10, 2021

Afghan Women Turn To E-Learning As An Alternative

UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons
UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons

UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, said everyone should support the return of Afghan girls to universities in Afghanistan. Lyons’ appeal in the Security Council session comes more than six months after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and prevented Afghan women and girls from returning to study at university and school in most of the country. The assurances of the Taliban officials have not been translated on the ground so far. The fear is that the situation will continue, just as it was during the rule of the Taliban in the nineties of the last century.

Despite this, hundreds of Afghan girls have found the solution to university study online and benefit from 1,600 scholarships for a bachelor’s degree at the American-based University of the People, such as Zainab, who is studying from her home in the Afghan capital, Kabul, at the age of twenty-four years, and because of the security situation, she is afraid. She even says publicly that she is studying at an online university due to the restrictions of the Taliban. “This university is the only way that will help me complete my studies,” says young Zainab. I had big dreams and a future ahead of me getting a college degree and even starting a business to prove that Afghan women are capable of achieving the impossible. Now, unfortunately, I do not even dare to say that I am studying at home.”

Online university education is an alternative for Afghan women

Taliban officials say they intend to accept the return of Afghan women to university studies, on the condition that they do not mix with males at all and that the working hours are different, but it is not known for now if they will allow male teachers to teach girls. In the end, things seem ambiguous about the future of university education for girls, especially because the students have not yet opened universities for them.

Chair of the Board of Trustees at University of the People, Pascaline Servan-Schreiber, stressed the importance of Afghan women completing education no matter what, adding, “When the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, we were concerned about the impact on women’s education. We cannot understand a world in which Afghans are stripped of their right to education, especially women. Accordingly, we announced our initiative to provide 1,000 scholarships to Afghans, with priority given to women. After the announcement, more than 8,100 women applied for the scholarship. More than 1,600 of them have started their studies with us, UoPeople was founded with the belief that higher education is a fundamental right for all.”

E-learning has begun to acquire a major role, especially after the exacerbation of the Corona pandemic and the prevention of face-to-face education in many countries to reduce the number of injuries, so there was the need for online education. Although the American University, which has more than 100,000 students around the world, was founded eleven years ago, technology and the stability of the Internet in most parts of the world, even in a country that suffers like Afghanistan, has made online education a required option.

This is a translated version of the original story first published in Dubai Magazine

University of the People