AFGHANOTES #9

With girls barred from education and amidst a financial meltdown, the English academies face closure

AFGHANOTES is the testimony of a team of Afghan journalists reporting the events and daily life in Afghanistan for Outriders since the Taliban swept into Kabul on August 15, 2021

KABUL – Afghanistan. “Join the most experienced team,” reads a poster outside the “Scholars House”, a language academy in Kabul that used to offer English classes.

Danishwaran (Scholars House) is one of dozens of English language centres in Kabul that flourished since 2001 in Afghanistan. Before the fall of the country to the Taliban, learning the English language was considered a way to receive a quality education in other countries.

Dari and Pashto are the two major official languages of Afghanistan used in schools as a medium of instruction. In the last few years, some young students learnt English as a second language.

This education centre opened seven months ago to provide special courses for young people who wished to pursue higher education abroad. More than $20,000 was invested in equipping the centre. After the fall of the government, all exit routes were suddenly closed for Afghans and university applicants. Women were barred from education and their presence in society diminished. Due to this, educational institutions faced a decrease in the number of their students.

Mr Rajabali Ahmadi is the director of the Scholars Course. He explains  that the centre’s founders tried their best to provide all the facilities needed for teaching and learning English. But now, at four o’clock in the afternoon, there were no students in the classrooms.

A large number of English language centres have been affected by the recent events in Kabul. They have been forced to close their doors to avoid financial losses. It has led to rising unemployment and declining incomes for hundreds of English instructors. They either have to find another job or leave the country to earn a living.

English instructors are in the teachers’ room talking about their future and that of the country. They find it almost impossible to work under the Taliban. They talk about the memories of classes full of students, and some jokingly say that after the Taliban came, they should learn Arabic and teach Arabic.

After 14 years of teaching English, Mr. Rajabali Ahmadi is now nearing the end of his career. His classes ended a few days ago, on October 11, 2021. The instructors and their principal have now been added to the ranks of the unemployed in Afghanistan. These days in Kabul, “the sun is setting more sadly,” he says.

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