03 December 2023

The price of a future

"I told my mother: 'Please, do not use this money to buy food for us, just keep the money for our education.' " 15-year-old Nahila is the eldest of six girls. Her mother, Saeed Khanum, was already married by the time she was Nahila’s age, but wants a better life for her daughters than she had for herself. "My husband works a few days a week doing…, One girl in Nuristan and one million others, “I want my daughters to have careers,” says Saeed Khanum wistfully. “Maybe one could be a doctor, and the other an engineer.” But without an education, for 15-year-old Nahila and 1 million other girls in Afghanistan barred from secondary school, there is little hope for this dream to come true. Just 40 per cent of children in Nuristan attend…, Daring to dream, For Sayeed Khanum, who just received her third round of cash assistance, the choice is clear. “I used the previous two rounds of cash assistance to buy books and notebooks for my youngest daughters in primary school, and to enroll my older daughters in private courses.  I will use this cash to continue paying for these private courses.” Saeed…, Communities coming together, Cash assistance is unconditional, meaning families can use the cash in the ways they feel are best. So, why would Saeed Khanum and other parents choose to use this cash for education? UNICEF interviewed 440 parents in Nuristan, plus 84 girls and 300 teachers, to understand how these communities perceive the importance of girls’ education. Focus…, Nothing but education, In their tiny, one-room house, warmed by a wood burning stove in the centre of the room, Nahila and her sisters bend over their schoolbooks. In the dim light, they whisper lines to themselves from their lessons, tracing the text on the page with a finger. The youngest, 5-year-old Fariha, not yet old enough for school, scribbles some doodles in a…