In conflict-ridden Afghanistan, education is fundamental for the road to peace and recovery. Yet ongoing violence, poverty and displacement prevent many children from going to school. The recent attacks on education facilities have highlighted the risks children have to face on a daily basis and the importance to protect and promote education for generations to come.
Action for Development’s school for street children continues to grow despite recent events and insecurities. The student body increased to 73 children, and classes are being held in two different classrooms. As a result of the growing number of students, classes were split up into two different levels – elementary and first grade – based on assessments of the children’s skills and competencies.
Eager to learn, the children are putting more effort to attend classes and have also become more open, many of them sharing their thoughts, as well as hopes and dreams for the future. One major contribution to the children’s motivation has been the introduction of football into their curriculum. Class attendance is a prerequisite for participating in the training sessions. Missing three consecutive classes will result in a penalty. The chance to play football regularly and to be part of a team is acting as a motivational factor.
The School consists of like-minded staff who have a strong interest in empowering children irrespective of their gender or social status. The football coach who was recently hired, supports and promotes female participation in football practices although cultural norms and traditional gender roles discourage girls from doing so.
Teachers are also engaging with the street children’s families, explaining to the parents the importance of physical education and team sports in particular, which not only improves their health, but also boosts their self-esteem and team building skills in a playful manner.