In Afghanistan, the Taliban has had a devastating effect on girls’ education. During their rule, hundreds of girls’ schools were shut down, and many destroyed, displacing hundreds of thousands of students. In rural areas, poverty-stricken families cannot afford transportation to remaining schools, and the long walk often takes girls through dangerous territory. When girls reach high school age, and must walk even further distances, sometimes directly through conflict zones, many fathers forbid them from continuing their education. As a result, girls are massively under-represented in schools. According to UNICEF, only a third of Afghan girls aged 12-15 attend school, compared to 60 percent of boys that age.

Furthermore, when Taliban rule prevents girls from attending high school, this leaves a missing generation of students who would normally have become teachers. There is a religious and cultural idea that once girls reach womanhood, they should no longer be taught by men. So, as the next generation of girls approaches high school, there are no female teachers to teach them. Again, their education is truncated. In the midst of Taliban resurgence, existing female teachers are barely ahead of their students. The blind are leading the blind.

But what if rural girls in Afghanistan had access to a safe boarding school setting, where they could learn real-world skills from trained female teachers?

Sahar Education—in collaboration with the architectural firm Miller Hull, the University of Washington’s Department of Architecture, and the Afghan Ministry of Education—aims to find out.

Read the full story about Sahar Education's work to give girls access to schooling by Natalie Slivinski at Global Washington.