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‘Not erasing, but protecting’: Afghanistan girls boarding school founder burns student records

Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder of SOLA, a boarding school for girls in Afghanistan, posts a video of the burning records on Twitter, says it's to assure parents of their family's safety.

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New Delhi: A video of school records of female students being burned by the school’s co-founder has been shared widely on social media as attention remains on Afghanistan and what the return of the Taliban rule will look like.

Amid apprehensions for women’s rights and safety, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder of the only boarding school for girls in Afghanistan, posted a video on Twitter late Friday, showing her burning her students’ records. She claimed this was being done not to erase them, but to protect students and their families from the Taliban.

In her tweet, she said that while the world focussed on those Afghans who were managing to get out, she was working to ensure the education of girls who have no way out of the country.

“My students, colleagues and I are safe with enormous gratitude to our ever vibrant global village. The time to appropriately express my gratitude will come. But right now there are many who aren’t or increasingly don’t feel safe. I’m broken & devastated for them,” she posted.

She further explained that she was only making this statement and showing the videos of all the records being burnt to reassure families of theirs and their children’s safety.

She also posted a link seeking donations for her school, SOLA (School of Leadership Afghanistan).

Also read: 24-year-old Afghan, a Delhi graduate, is behind the Kabul women protests against Taliban

A survivor’s tale

Basij-Rasikh talked about how, after the fall of the Taliban in March 2002, many Afghan girls were invited to go to the nearest public school to participate in a placement test because the Taliban had burned all female students’ records to erase their existence. She was one of those girls, she said.

This is what prompted her to start SOLA, which means peace in Pashto and is the vision and goal of the school. The mission is to provide a rigorous education that promotes self-respect, critical thinking and a sense of purpose.

SOLA has almost 100 students who attend three programs — a pre-6th grade program, middle school program and high school program. Classes are held six days a week, from Saturday till Thursday. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, all classes in 2021 were being held remotely.

One of the testimonials posted anonymously on the school website reads: “I will use my education to teach other girls how to be brave, and that they are important in society. Today, I am here, I am brave, tomorrow another girl will be here and she will be brave like me.”

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: Taliban bans co-education in Afghanistan’s Herat, says it is ‘root of all evils in society’


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