By Asad Karimi
In Afghanistan, while girls have their right to education stripped from them, boys at schools in the countryside are victims of harsh treatment and abuse. Asad Karimi writes about his experience.
When I was in Afghanistan and I was six or seven years old, I didn’t like going to school. I hated it. I loathed it. I couldn’t stand it. The teachers, all men, didn’t help the students; they were not polite to them or nice to them in any way. On the contrary.
I was feeling excited about going to school. My Mother and my family wanted me to go because they wanted me to learn something and for me to become a doctor or engineer. Ha!
They spent their precious money and paid for my fees and for the books and for the uniform and they thought that the teachers would look after us. But I couldn’t learn anything at school because of the violence of the teachers.
They beat you with a long wooden pole when you were two minutes late. They beat you when you made a mistake. They hit you very hard on the stomach, everywhere, and the teachers humiliated you in front of the class. You felt so embarrassed.
While I was trying to write, they hit me on my back. When I spoke aloud as I wrote, they hit me with force. Even now, I tremble sometimes when I pick up a pen and lean over a notepad. I am still scared that a heavy stick will come down.
They wouldn’t even let you write unless they told you to; they would assume you were drawing or doing something wrong. To put your pen to paper when you were not told to was considered playing. I still feel sorry when I think of my schooling in Afghanistan. By now, I would be in a much better position in life were it not for that school in Afghanistan.
Obviously, you were scared and in pain when they were beating you and sometimes the children were so frightened that they peed themselves. It’s hard to believe that this is true. That teachers can be like this.
I hated the role of school in Afghanistan. It is just a way of forcing you to learn religion. The Koran is fine to learn, but they didn’t teach any other useful things, except for some maths.
I was in trouble all the time when my family sent me to school. I decided not to go back. They thought I was at school, but at eight I was running away and I was meeting my friends and we shot catapults into the sky. We built home-made parachutes, and sometimes we just played football in the dust in our school shoes, with a small ball.
But everyday, if you leave school and have nothing to do and you can’t go to school and you can’t go home, it is as if you are in a strange empty place, nowhere; until the school bell goes and you can go home.
After a year my family found out that I was not going to school and hadn’t learned anything and they were upset and angry with me for a while until and I told them the truth that I didn’t like going because I was beaten constantly by the teachers and I was scared. They understood me. My father said:
What are you going to do in the future? Be a tramp? He was worried about me.
I wish one day to go back to Afghanistan and help the children there and give strong advice to the teacher and the community. My advice would be:
- Make sure children learn many things, not just religion.
- Do not beat children in school, not even a little bit.
- Let children feel free in school and happy.
- Have more activities at school don’t keep children stuck to their desks.
- Make sure boys and girls can study together. There is no problem with this.
- Eliminate tribalism between Tajik, Pashtun and Harzara at school. Encourage tolerance.
- Train all teachers to behave professionally and in a kind way towards the children.
- Help the schools with money. Children are the future and they must be helped.
When I came to UK I thought it was going to be the same as Afghanistan and I was afraid, but they told me not to be worried about going to school here. That the teachers were nice and that they would help me and I would have fun and make friends.
I got excited and overcame my fear.
Now when I call my father from England and I tell him I am at college, he is so happy, and he says with great emotion and pride:
Asad, don’t leave your education until you finish.
And he tells all his friends about me in the coffee shop and everyone knows I am here and studying and I hope the son-of-a-bitch teachers who beat me know too.