In early September 2021, Women in War, with a group of young Afghan exiles created a founding committee to lay the basis for the Afghan University in Exile
Khosraw Mani: novelist, journalist at France 24: pedagogical director
Ibrahim Mateen : computer scientist : technical director
Sahra Mani: filmmaker
Rada Akbar: artist
Lutfia Atay: director of the Primary School sector of the project
Carol Mann, director of FemAid-Women in War: coordinator
We have set ourselves two goals
1. To continue the education of girls in Afghanistan who are not allowed to attend school by Taliban decree
2. To contribute to the university education of Afghan female students (and others who sign up) through courses in Dari and Pashto.
We have already made contact with a number of professionals and academics who have recently arrived in France and are willing to give courses. The response has been very enthusiastic.
The chosen method is e-learning accessible by computer and/or (via Google-meet or other free options)
These are for the moment located in Europe in the same time zone to facilitate the implementation of the project;
1. Continuing the education of girls in Afghanistan who have been banned from school
On 18 September, secondary schools in Afghanistan reopened, but without female students, who are now banned from attending school beyond the primary level.
Priority is given initially to middle school students, aged around 11 to 15, the most threatened of all.
Since their teachers have lost their jobs, we want to work with them to develop a system whereby they can teach small groups of students at least two subjects each.
E-learning does not seem to be a solution here, as the younger students do not own a telephone, which is reserved for their elders.
This method is inspired by the one used by women during the first Taliban rule in the 1990s. Of course, this project is not without risks and demands carefully-planned security measures. It is likely that an emergency fund will be needed to support any female teachers arrested.
We will undertake research to identify female teachers who would like to teach students in their neighbourhoods in the subjects they master. We are asking migrants and refugees to help us locate and contact female teachers.
Some subjects could be taught from abroad by refugees, such as computer science or foreign languages, depending on demand.
Female teachers – made redundant by the Taliban – have told us they wanted to teach and some classes have already begun. Our aim is to pay them the same salary they were getting previously.
2. University studies
We are currently identifying refugees who are eligible to teach at university level. Curricula and subjects will be established once a coherent team is established.Our aim is to pay them for their lectures.
So far, we have already identified with a number of Afghan refugees and expats willing to teach as well exiled Iranian researchers who are volunteering
We are also asking Afghan tutors to identify female students who could take these courses. It is clear that these courses would be open to anyone who wishes to take them.
We are seeking a university partnership to get these courses accredited because students often want some form of certification that can help them in their future job search, rather than a degree.
The first classes have taken place in October on computer science, Persian literature and citizen journalism.
Further classes are planned in health, social sciences, English language, archeology.
We now have a Facebook page: Afghan University in Exile
and a You Tube Channel
For the moment, we are seeking much needed funding.