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How the Modi government saved the only school in Delhi for Afghan refugees

 New Delhi, Aug 9: It could well seem like a Bollywood blockbuster.

How the Modi government saved the only school in Delhi for Afghan refugees

For the last one year-since the collapse of the government in Afghanistan on August 15 -- the going has been tough for Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan High School, an educational centre tucked in Jangpura, right in the heart of New Delhi.

The only Afghan school in Delhi, providing the best possible education to the Afghan refugee children, especially in their mother languages -- Dari and Pashto-- faced closure due to lack of funds as the return of the Taliban in Kabul led to choking of funds directed towards all educational centres. It had no money to support the teaching and non teaching staff besides the administration cost and rent for the premises faced closure.

"Problems had started even before the collapse of the previous regime in Afghanistan. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, funds were irregular and we were facing several challenges," Nazir Ahmad Yosufi, Board Secretary of the school told India Narrative. "But after the collapse of the government, we were hopeless and we had to give up the school building," Yosufi said.

Due to lack of funds, the school had to vacate the Jangpura premises. That was then. Today, the school authorities are busy chartering a new roadmap after support and financial assistance poured in from the Narendra Modi government.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has asked the school authorities to find a new premise to resume offline classes. It has also committed to foot all the expenses including the rent for the school building.

The school, founded in 1994 and supported by the Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), currently has about 257 students, most of whom are girls. However, the number has drastically come down from the earlier 400. While 65 per cent of the students are girls, the teaching staff comprises only women.

Yosufi explained that many refugee families have relocated to other countries leading to a drop in the number of students.

"From this year, we are seeing a boost in admissions and that is encouraging," Yosufi said, adding that the school will also recruit teaching staff.

In order to understand the finer points and administration contours of schools run for refugees, Yosufi along with Rahul Benarji, a member of the school board Member, also visited Tibetan Children's Village School. The aim was to study the school model.

The school today has launched several extra-curricular "clubs" to ensure that the children get an all-round development.

Opposed to gender-discrimination, the students and the staff of Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan High School even celebrated the International Women's Day at the Afghanistan Embassy premises this year.

Navita Srikant, a commentator on international affairs who has been closely working with the school authorities said that the school authorities are committed to the cause.

"Mentoring and inspiring these children for creative activities beyond education which helps them express their emotions constructively has been a humbling experience," Srikant said, adding that as a founding member of Gandhi Badshah Khan Educational Society, the endeavour has been to keep up the spirit of India led UN Resolution 2593 on Afghanistan towards collective and holistic development of Afghan communities, especially girls.

The teachers of the school have been introduced to a non-violent communication course the aim of enhancing the quality of teaching. The programme is supported by the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti.

"The Centre's efforts will become a landmark case study at UN inspiring other Member States to make arrangements for education for Afghan Students, especially girls," Srikant added.

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