Afghanistan: “This school doesn’t have any obstacles to stop my studies anymore.”

AAR Japan has been promoting inclusive education (*) in Afghanistan since 2014. Our goal is to create an environment where all children can learn together, regardless of whether they have a disability. In this article, Tamim SHAMS, a project officer at AAR Kabul office, reports on the activities that took place in 2018 including their achievements and the voices from the beneficiaries of our project.

(*) Inclusive education: classrooms, facilities and education systems provided for all children regardless of race, language and if they have a disability.
Children using a wheelchair ramp installed for the school. It was constructed with AAR Japan’s support (September 2018)

A support project for children with disabilities

 Since 2014, AAR Kabul office has been conducting a support project for students with disabilities. We are promoting inclusive education by targeting two public schools: Sadeqi and Sayaran Schools in the Charikar city of Parwan province. The students’ age is the equivalent of Japanese elementary to high school years. These two schools are actively accepting students with disabilities and renovating the buildings for better accessibility. At the same time, they are trying to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities. The schools have sign language and Braille supplementary classes for children with difficulties. They also provide training for the teachers who are in charge of these supplementary classes.

 Establishing “inclusive education committees” at two public schools

 AAR Japan established “inclusive education committees” in both schools. The teachers and the principals who became committee members participated in trainings by a specialist from Kabul University who specialise in special needs education. They learned how to welcome children with disabilities and how to communicate with them. To be more specific, they were taught that it is important to understand the  potential of the children.  Furthermore, they showed this understanding to other teachers and students. Finally, they learned the importance of encouraging children with disabilities to come to school.


The committee members who completed the sign language and Braille training (October 2018)

 After this training, the committee members visited the homes of children who were not going to school. They explained to the parents that all children have the right to receive education and convinced them to bring their children to school. Also, they started supplementary lessons named “inclusive education classes” for children with disabilities.
These schools’ efforts led to an increase in enrolment of students with impaired vision, hearing and other various difficulties. Thus, AAR Japan held a sign language and Braille training for the committee members so that they could interact with the children with varied disabilities and showed them how to communicate.
On the other hand, the committee members felt that they needed more supplementary classes, but they didn’t have enough rooms for it. Therefore, AAR Japan built two new classrooms for both schools and now the students are using them.

Now, we present comments from people who are involved in AAR Japan’s projects.

“This school doesn’t have any obstacles to stop my studies anymore.” by Paiman (12 years old)

Paiman, one of the many children with disabilities who attends school (12 years old) (center). Tamim SHAMS, an AAR staff member (right). (October 7th, 2019)
Paiman at Sadegi School was born with paralysis and is one of the students who was able to start lessons with AAR Japan’s project. The committee members invited his parents to the school and told them that he would be accepted and encouraged them to bring their son to classes. Paiman is now able to attend lessons and also participate in the supplementary courses.

Paiman tells us, “My school used to be an inconvenient place for me, so I couldn’t continue going there. But now that they have supplementary classes, washrooms for wheelchairs and ramps, this school doesn’t have any obstacles to stop my studies anymore. At school, there are other students with various disabilities. And I don’t feel the difference anymore between students with disabilities like me and other children. I am happy to study with everybody.”

  “Meeting a student with a disability made a big impact on my life.” by Farhad, a teacher.

An inclusive education committee member, also a teacher at Sadegi School, Ms. Freshta Farhad (left) (October 7th, 2019)
Ms. Farhad is actively working as a committee member and her motivation was that she had a student with a disability in her class.

Ms. Farhad tells us,
“I became a committee member after meeting a student in my class named Zainab. She has a speech difficulty. One day, I asked her if she was keeping up with the class, but she wasn’t able to communicate with me.
Around this time, she learned sign language in a supplementary class and a few weeks later, she tried to talk to me through hand movements. However, at the time, I didn’t notice that she was trying to communicate with me using sign language.
One day when I had some spare time, I decided to participate in a sign language session with Zainab. In a single day, I was able to learn a lot of signs and found it very interesting. I was looking forward to the next session. I also learned the rights of disabled people at the training for staff members and my journey to promote the inclusive education began. I became a committee member and now I am aiming to become a sign language teacher. Meeting Zainab made a big impact on my life.”

To keep children happy and to see their smiles

Since I started working at AAR Japan, I have felt that their projects are very interesting. The inclusive education project started, and it was amazing to have an opportunity to be a part of it as its project officer.
My job is to actively meet children with disabilities and try to listen to their past and current situations. Furthermore, we talk about their feelings and wishes for the future. It is very moving and makes me really happy when children who receive support tell me now, they can play with everybody. I really enjoy communicating with them and exchanging jokes sometimes.

Through AAR Japan’s project, we want to make changes to lives of children with disabilities. We will continue to work hard to keep children happy and see their smiles. I am thankful from the bottom of my heart for all the support from Japan.

Afghanistan Kabul Office, Tamim SHAMS
He studied management at Kabul University in the capital of Afghanistan. He has been working at the AAR Kabul office since 2012. He is in charge of the inclusive education project. (profile as of the date of the article)

Japanese-English translation by Ms. Yukari Onda
English editing by KG
This article has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Japan's Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.