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Back to Classes in Afghanistan

Kid Reporter describes her first day back at school

By Sabrina Omar | null null , null
Girls learning the English alphabet at a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, June, 2007. (Photo: ©Alison Wright/Corbis)
Girls learning the English alphabet at a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, June, 2007. (Photo: ©Alison Wright/Corbis)

Despite the dangerous armed conflicts that continue to plague the country of Afghanistan, children here have something to be excited about: the first day of school.

In mid-August, students poured into the halls of the International School of Kabul (ISK). Kabul is the capital city of Afghanistan. We are facing new teachers, new subjects, and new classmates with the same excitement as kids our age in other countries.

Students reunited with friends they had not seen over the last few months, and we greeted new teachers, and explored new subjects that we will be studying over the next school year.

I would bet this is the scene of a typical first day at an American school. The only difference might be is that ISK is made up of students from 21 nations around the world. The school has grown rapidly, beginning with 2 teachers and 8 students. ISK now has a family of 18 staff members, 26 teachers, and more than 260 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. All courses are taught in English.

We even have a school mascot, the lion, which shows how much pride our school-family has over how we have grown through the years.

ISK is different from traditional Afghan schools, however. Most schools take longer breaks in the winter because the snow is very heavy, and the buildings do not have heat.

In addition, students attend classes in shifts, depending on their grade level. Grades 1 to 4 have classes from early-morning to mid-morning. Grades 5 to 8 follow a mid-morning to early-afternoon schedule, and grades 9 to 12 take the final shift from early-afternoon until late-afternoon.

map of afghanistan
(Map: ©Jim McMahon)

Playing Catch Up

There are also special elementary schools for girls who were not able to begin formal education at the traditional age of 5 or 6 years old. The schools are called "A4T1," which stands for Afghans4Tomorrow, the non-profit organization that provides funding for the school. At A4T1s, girls catch up on what they missed—with an accelerated schedule.

Students attend school year-round with only a two-week break. They cover in 12 months all the material many other students would learn in two years. This means that in only three years, the girls can complete grades 1 to 6.

There are currently 2 A4T1 girls schools in Afghanistan. One of them holds classes in a large house in the capital city, Kabul. Students wear simple uniforms: long black dresses with white headscarves, called chadars.

I had the chance to interview a few of the students who attend A4T1. I asked them what color uniforms they would prefer. One fourth-grader replied, "Blue and green, because I rarely see much grass or water."

I'm glad that at my school, ISK, boys and girls can dress in casual T-shirts and long pants or skirts.

More From Afghanistan

Scholastic Kid Reporter Sabrina Omar will be blogging about her experiences as a middle-school student in Afghanistan during this school year. Check back for updates on her blog, "A Kid's Life in Afghanistan."


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About the Author

Sabrina Omar is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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