By Alisha Parikh, SED 2017
A girl and her father walked back to their home from a small living room that the girl called her school. The two missed a roadside bomb, by minutes. Upon entering their home, the phone rings with a voice on the other end that warned, if the father were to continue sending his daughter to “school,” they would try again tomorrow. This story was shared by a woman named Shabana Basij-Rasikh, on her Ted Talk “Dare to educate Afghan girls.”
Afghanistan is a country today where it is still risky for girls to attend school or be educated, and perhaps even one of the riskiest in the world. The title, “Dare to educate Afghan girls” for me, is so much more than merely the title of an empowering Ted Talk. It is my life-long dream to educate girls in Afghanistan, and why this country in particular? I never really have been able to develop a concrete answer for this question, and maybe will only with time and reflection. But time and reflection, after being asked numerous times why I so strongly persist on one day going to Afghanistan, have only made my desire to do so stronger. But perhaps I say this country in particular because behind the war-torn streets, the women whose independence has been destroyed, and the children who were unable to play in their backyard without a fear of being killed, I see opportunity, courage, and a resilience to be dictated by such cruel authority.
One aspect of the country in which I have seen a tremendous potential for change is the education of girls. As Shabana Basij-Rasikh encourages her audience to think about, what is the value of an educated daughter? In my view, the value of educated girls and women in a country such as Afghanistan is immense, and to deny this basic human right is to undermine so many young girls’ dignity and confidence. Its value may be that by educating the women of Afghanistan, their daughters and granddaughters will see education as a realistic opportunity, not something that is denied in an attempt to objectify women and demolish power even over their own lives. Or perhaps its value is that by educating the women of Afghanistan, their success and ambition will bring the country in a place to recover from decades of war and the brutality of the Taliban. The potential for change and value that I see in educating Afghan girls only continues to grow as I envision schools in Afghanistan embracing the girls of its county.
As an academically ambitious student, I see the value of my own education as a chance for me to pursue my passion and a meaningful career. In my personal experience, I never thought twice about my education – it was always a given, always a part of my future. But in third world countries, education is not always such a priority. And in the context of a country like Afghanistan, I believe that education – particularly for young girls – is priceless. Education and the difference it can make for one’s future gives individuals a purpose, a motive to work hard, and a reason to strive for success. If all people in Afghanistan were to value education, and work so that all Afghan children were able to receive an education, I believe the faith of people for the country’s future would be boundless. I have always believed that education is the solution to so many of the problems that exist in our world today. And I think a value and a dare to educate girls in Afghanistan would go a long way.
This is the link to Shabana Basij-Rasikh’s TED Talk: www.ted.com/talks/shabana_basij_rasikh_dare_to_educate_afghan_girls?utm_campaign=&utm_content=awesm-publisher&language=en&utm_medium=on.ted.com-facebook-share&utm_source=m.facebook.com&awesm=on.ted.com_t07YR
Alisha Parikh is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in Early Childhood Education.