In their own words: Karima Yousufi, overcoming gender stereotypes in Afghanistan
Karima Yousufi teaches both boys and girls in primary and upper secondary classes in Abdul Ghafor Nadeem Boys' High School, a pilot school for Inclusive Education in Kabul. As a mother of four, her love of children motivated Karima to become a teacher. Her husband and family also supported her decision. She graduated from Sayed Jamaluddin Teacher Training Institute and has been teaching for 20 years.
“At first I was very comfortable teaching girls and was concerned that boys would not obey a female teacher. However, after I learned about Inclusive Education, I now feels comfortable teaching both boys and girls. I believe that Inclusive Education enables teachers to accept diversity and equip them with skills to overcome challenges in their classrooms.”
“I worry about how Afghan culture reinforces gender stereotypes and its effect on what and how children learn in school. For example, girls often face difficulty in learning maths and scientific subjects, but are good in subjects related to housekeeping and social activities. But this is a result of how girls and boys are treated at school and not because of genetic or biological differences. I want other teachers to understand this point and work to solve this problem.”
“I also believe that if all girls are to be able to pursue their education, then more flexibility is needed at all levels of the system. I think Inclusive Education can open this door for girls and play a vital role in keeping them in education, because this approach is accommodating. I firmly believe girls can learn if more support is provided for them.”
“I have found that an inclusive, child-friendly education approach is a good and comprehensive methodology for teaching. It helps teachers to provide a welcoming and participatory atmosphere in their classes so that students can learn effectively. It also encourages teachers to involve the parents, which helps increase the quality of education. “
“I would like the training provided by Teacher Education Department (TED) to focus on new and updated teaching methodologies and pedagogy because this is what the new generation of students expect. They want more participatory approaches and are enthusiastic about contemporary issues, but teachers are often unable to fulfill their students' expectations.”
“I want teachers to be honest and strong as they play a vital role strengthening the roots of Afghan society. Teachers should be well prepared, have proper lesson plans and make an effort to understand the needs of their students.”