Ray of Hope
Lighting the way for women in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, where more than 69 per cent of the adult population is unable to read or write. The situation is even more dismal for Afghan women, as about 83 per cent of them are totally illiterate. With 70 girls in school for every 100 boys, such a high difference between male and female literacy rates indicates a profound gender and geographical gap, according to UNESCO.
The Afghan capital, Kabul has the highest female literacy rate of almost 35 per cent, compared to the literacy rate among men in the capital, which is 68 per cent. In the southern provinces, literacy among females is as low as 1.6 per cent, while among males it is 45 per cent. The lowest male literacy rates are in Helmand, which is about 41 per cent.
According to UNICEF, an estimated 3.3 million girls go to school in Afghanistan. But around 3.3 million children, including girls, still don’t have access to primary and secondary education in the country. UNICEF reveals only 28 per cent girls in rural Afghanistan attend school, while over 50 per cent of the girls in urban areas get primary education.
Overall, the reasons behind such low literacy levels in the female population are many. A majority of Afghan girls don’t go to school and spend their time in managing the household. For Afghan women, it is against their cultural norm to step out of the home in pursuit of education, and in most cases, girls are not allowed by their families to attend school.
Despite their willingness and family approval, most of the girls in Afghanistan cannot go to schools owing to insecurity and travelling issues. In remote areas of Afghanistan particularly, there is a severe lack of schools, making it difficult for girls to walk a long way to attend school on a regular basis. Other than the cultural barriers, early marriages, as well as a lack of female teachers are the other reasons. Due to a lack of sanitation in schools, older girls don’t attend classes which often leads to their dropping out.
In such a bleak scenario, Razia Jan appears as a ray of hope for the educationdeprived girls and women. A tireless humanitarian, Razia is the founder of Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young women through community- based education.
The Ray of Hope Foundation is located at Deh Sabz, which is a small district situated northeast of Kabul City. Razia believes education is key to bringing a positive and and peaceful change in society and, through her Foundation, she aims to provide Afghan women with the opportunity to get an education in their own villages so that they may grow and work towards a brighter future.
The Foundation runs the ‘Zabuli Education Center,’ which provides free education to about 500 girls and will add 50 girls every year until it reaches its targeted capacity of 650 students. Realizing the need for quality and free education in the country, the Foundation intends to use its school as a model to