Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Monday 26th April - afternoon

An afternoon visit to Sari Sang School, twinned to St Catherines. The school lies along a dusty track lined by high mud walls. To reach it you pass through villages unchanged by time. The only anachronism is the swarm of German heavy armoured vehicles which passes us on our way, sending clouds of dust billowing into the air and smothering all who walk nearby.

The school is in a very conservative area and Oliver is not allowed to film. But great progress has been made and following the construction of a higher wall, the girls are now playing volleyball –allowed to do sport for the very first time. We take a class of combined grades 9-11 and having read out cards and letters from St Catherines girls, run a lesson on the Millennium Development Goals. Fascinating to hear their views. Afghan girls are not usually asked for their opinions. Classes are never interactive, but prescriptive and teacher led, with no interaction from pupils.

Today, we asked the girls to come up and write the goals they knew on the board. Mary illustrated them. Then the class was asked to vote for the goal they considered most important. The concept of voting took a while to explain. On first attempt, everyone voted more than once. Finally we managed to get them to choose just one goal. The results were surprising. First came health and security, gender didn’t feature—they said they follow the guidelines of the Qu’aran and are happy to follow these. Education was important but not top of the list. Then we asked each girl to explain why they had voted for their choice of goal. Fascinating to hear them debate, and probably the first time they had ever done so.

The answers were brilliant and well thought through. As the lesson went on they became more confident after such a hesitant start. The last question I asked was what was their one wish. Peace, security, health for the entire country, end to conflict, possibility of further education and then just 2 who allowed a wish for themselves - to travel abroad and to be successful.

A fascinating afternoon. Tomorrow to the villages of Worsaj and so no contact for the next 3 days.

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